Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoWellcome has seized this opportunity to deliver high value information to a defined audience in order to introduce and reinforce its corporate travel policy.
The company has created a travel website for its staff on its internal intranet, and as an indication of its success, last year employees read 340,000 pages of information from the site.
Richard Plummer, GlaxoWellcome travel manager, said the original goal of the site was to reduce the number of incoming calls to his department from staff requesting routine information.
'I measured how many telephone calls we took for each booking, and noted what were the most commonly asked questions,' he said. 'I then investigated whether a website could answer these questions and thereby reduce the head count in the travel department.'
He was helped by the advanced web literacy of GlaxoWellcome staff, but the scale of the daily challenge facing the travel department becomes clear when Plummer explains that it was responsible for completing 160,000 transactions last year - many of which would originally have required four telephone calls before completion.
'The driving force was to reduce the cost of delivering the service, and we achieved that in our first year,' said Plummer.
He rejected the fears held in some quarters of the travel industry that the more web literate travellers become, the less need there will be for travel departments and agents.
In fact, Plummer wants GlaxoWellcome travellers to be as well educated for travel as possible, because then they will better understand his department's initiatives to drive down travel costs - such as the use of one-way car hire rather than a taxi to get between certain offices and airports, or the adoption of 'creative' ticketing that can significantly cut the cost of air fares by flying to a destination via a different route.
He also wants his staff travellers to visit the travel intranet site as frequently as possible, because this assists compliance with the corporate travel policy.
The travel site features links directly to GlaxoWellcome's preferred suppliers, from National Car Rental to hotels and airlines, and offers close on 1,200 information-rich pages.
These detail office opening times, maps to rental locations, whether the rental station is on or off-airport, the types of car available - all information that travellers may have been tempted to request via telephone prior to the creation of the travel website - while preferred hotels even feature photographs of rooms.
'One of the biggest spin-offs has been that it has allowed us to drive our preferred programme extensively,' said Plummer.
On some popular transatlantic routes compliance with the official corporate policy is as high as 97%.
As an additional incentive to use the website, Plummer has banned staff from requesting their airmile status over the telephone (all details are on the intranet), and allows preferred suppliers to advertise late availability weekend and holiday deals, much appreciated by staff heading for a break.
Surprisingly in this b2b mad age, GlaxoWellcome staff do not yet book their travel arrangements themselves - bookings are still handled by the internal travel department, and travel agent implants.
This is largely due to the lack of IT infrastructure to create a genuine through ticket that encompasses everything from a transfer to an airport to the air ticket, car hire at the other end, and a hotel reservation, but as IT systems develop and integrate, end-user bookings will feature on the agenda.