July 12, 2021 – Based in Utah, Hess Corporate Travel is one of the nation’s largest and most experienced corporate travel management companies. It’s also one of the most nimble, according to Chief Operating Officer Michael S. Davidson, who has been with the company for more than two decades.
“What excites me about the work we do is how we’re able to change, and change quickly,” said Davidson. “At every level, we’re empowered to try new things and to do what we think could positively impact our customers. That includes embracing technology, like with our Deem partnership. But we’re also thinking about the entire relationship with the business traveler, because booking travel is only part of what we’re doing these days. It’s so much more than that.”
Indeed, what sets Hess apart is its heightened level of customer focus, from the experience of booking their travel to the ones they have en route. Hess is committed to easing every bump in the road a traveler might face — from proactively monitoring the weather so travelers are rebooked before encountering delays at the airport, to keeping an eye on costs and reissuing tickets when a better price pops up for the same itinerary. Davidson himself is familiar with those road-warrior anxieties; in fact, they were his very inspiration to enter the travel business while a college athlete at Utah State University.
“Our track team travel was so disorganized, and it drove me crazy because there were times I couldn’t focus on a race because of bad flights, or waiting on cars, or because we didn’t have dinner reservations,” explained Davidson. “So my last year of college, I told the coach, ‘If you let me handle our travel, I’ll do it all and you won’t have anything to worry about.’ That gave me the bug.”
After all these years, Davidson is still thinking about how to make the traveler’s experience a seamless one — and that’s a large part of what attracted him to partner with Deem.
“The Etta platform is user friendly, and a streamlined, dynamic user interface is key,” said Davidson. “Deem has thought of things from a traveler’s point of view. They’ve thought about how the booking process should go, and made it so the end user actually wants to use the tool.”
According to Davidson, a great booking platform is non-negotiable in a business climate where so many travelers are used to booking their own travel and have high standards for their experience. That means not only do travelers demand a seamless interface, they also need to have confidence that they’re selecting from the best booking options available. On the other hand, companies need to ensure compliance with their travel policies in a way that keeps travelers happy and doesn’t complicate the booking process.
Finding this valuable combination in Etta has been “a breath of fresh air,” said Davidson. And, having finished up a smooth implementation process, Hess is eager to begin rolling out Deem’s platform to its customers any day now.
“Our travel managers don’t look at Deem as a competitor, or think, ‘Why are you going online when you could be using me?’” he explained. “We recognize that our value to the customer is so much more than that, and customers using Etta free up our travel managers to actually service those bookings in ways we never would have had time for in the past.”
Beyond the technology itself, Deem has also offered Hess the partnership it had been craving. Instead of reading the latest in a press release, Hess knows it can rely on Deem for a personal touch and open communication.
“If someone from Deem tells me a new feature is going to be an upgrade or is going to be better, I can trust that it’s true,” he said. “Deem stands alone in their support of us, and in helping build our business. That’s huge. The trust we’ve built in our relationship is what makes the difference.”
Trust has been especially crucial considering that Hess began its partnership with Deem after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For some companies, it would seem a difficult time to invest in new technology, but Davidson said implementing Deem was “a no-brainer, and something we had to have” as Hess looks towards its future.
“I’m very optimistic coming out of this pandemic,” said Davidson, who noted the pent-up demand from business travelers who have been grounded for much of the past year.
“More than ever, I think people are going to travel for business. The need is still there. But what I think has changed in our industry is that customers won’t be coming to us only to book their travel, but for the service and peace of mind we can provide. Embracing that shift, and the technology that makes it possible, will open up doors for travel management companies way into the future.”