20 min read

Webinar - Tips & Tricks: Gather

Webinar - Tips & Tricks: Gather

Thank you for joining us today for our Tips and Tricks webinar series. This is our second in a series of about four. Today we'll be covering Gather.


This is our solution to our corporate business group travel, for group air, for hotel bookings, for room blocks, and also is there a solution that allows you to invite guests to either join in those group meetings or maybe to interview a candidate, somebody that might be outside of your business account. Today we'll be going over creating a meeting. What does that look like? How fast and simple it actually is? What does it look like to actually invite people to that meeting? How do you book for them? How can they book for themselves? And then also, how do you monitor that status? So how do you get confirmation from people? What does it look like when they are actually booking? What's their status? Whether they're pending, approved, or if they're just not attending at all.

And then we're going to go ahead and open it up to some Q&A too throughout. If you do have any questions, please leave them to the end. But feel free to answer the poll questions as they trickle in throughout Kyle's presentations.

And just quick background. We are joined today by Kyle Harrison, our Director of Customer Success. Kyle has been with Amtrav for over a decade.

Definitely knows the ins and outs of all things Amtrav and is our gather guru. This is something that he's very familiar with. So there's nobody better to demonstrate this product than Kyle.

And myself, I join us on the product marketing team. So I'll be doing some of the behind the scenes things like our Q&A. And I'll open it up to live questions towards the end.

Feel free to trickle them in the chat as well. If they come up, we'll be sure to answer them all at the end. And just for reference as well, this will also be recorded.

So if you're not attending, you're not here, but if you know somebody that would like to see this, we will be sending a link out at the end of this. So with that, I'll go ahead and send it over back to Kyle to go over gather. You just want to get off the screen share.

I'll go ahead and I will. Let me just launch this. All right.

Well, thanks Joe. And hello everyone. Kyle Harrison coming to you from our Chicago corporate headquarters here in the West Loop.

Decided to get out of the house and just kind of host this here today in our headquarters. So thank you so much for taking time out of your day to spend it with us and learn a little bit more about gather as Joe mentioned. Gather, what is it? So this is our solution to groups and meetings travel in addition to invited guests travel.

So what we're going to do today, as Joe mentioned, we're going to build out a gather start to finish. I'm going to point out some tips and tricks and things that will really set you up for success as you are launching one or multiple gathers depending on the use case. And also just take you through a couple of different use cases before we go into this.

The one example that we're going to build out today will be an example sales kickoff meeting here in Chicago. So that's what we're going to build out start to finish. But on my screen here, again, I'm only, I'm in the meetings and the guest travel which will take you to the same place.

And so for anyone that has access to gather they'll see everything that's upcoming. So I have a couple examples already built out. So Greg Ross interview here in Chicago.

So we see this widely used for invited guests. So staff that does not work for your company but you need them to gain access one time in order to book for, again, recruiting. We see this used a lot or maybe a guest speaker you're hosting a conference and you're paying on behalf of a professional education speaker in order to come in and speak on your behalf something to that effect.

And then in addition to groups and meetings travel. So meaning I need to move anywhere let's say from two to 2000 people to a specific place for a specific reason. So that's actually what we're going to cover here as we're building out our example but just wanted to point out a couple different use cases when it comes to either profiled staff or also invited guests, because it can be used for either.

So we'll go ahead and we're going to get started with I'm going to do 2024 sales kick off. And we are going to make this a meeting employee or non-employee. So when does the event actually start? So I'm going to say that this starts on the 16th and ends on the 18th.

On the 16th, it's going to start at 9 AM and on the 18th, it's going to conclude in the afternoon at three. Where is it? So you can be as specific as you want with this whether it is our office which I'm going to put in an actual address or if it is a hotel, a conference center anything to that effect. So you can put in the location it's Google results driven as you'll see here.

So I'll go ahead and select this as the location for the meeting. So everyone knows where they're going. Two more things before we create this.

So special instructions for my support team. So should the invited guests or invited staff reach out to us for support? Is there anything that we should know? Any nuances or is there a specific person we should direct them back to for questions that might not be travel related? Maybe they have questions on the programming of the meeting specifically. So you can give us special instructions on how to be able to service those calls, chats or emails that come in from either your invited staff or your invited guests.

Supplemental information for travelers. So this is anything that you want to convey to the invited guests or staff before they start booking. So both optional, but we do encourage you if there's anything you did want to convey prior to the booking process getting started go ahead and fill those out.

And we'll go ahead and we'll click create on this one. All right. So as we can see, we start with the date, time and date, time and location.

And of course, what is the name of the meeting? So now how are my people gonna get there? Let's start with flights and rail. So I'm gonna build on flight and rail to this here. So here in Chicago, I'm gonna say, all right they can fly into Midway, O'Hare.

They of course can come into Union Station should they be on an Amtrak available route but also Naperville is too far. This is 26 miles away. It doesn't make sense for me to include this.

So I'm actually gonna exclude that from any of the results. So now arriving by, so we have an example of 9 a.m. starting on Tuesday the 16th. I would say you probably need to arrive the night before.

Again, you're gonna leave it to chance if you're waking up and getting here. Also, I need you to be well-rested. This is our sales kickoff.

So wanna ensure like you're getting a good night's sleep. You're coming in the night before and you're able to get to the office at an appropriate time. So I'm telling everyone you must arrive by the night before.

The meeting ends at three. So when should your flight more than likely depart logistically? So I would say getting from the office to O'Hare or Midway to clear security at that time it should probably be something departing after five o'clock in my judgment. So that's what I'm gonna go ahead and say here.

So I want you to book something that is departing after five o'clock. So now we're gonna see a couple of things pop up where it says per policy. I'm actually gonna revisit this here shortly and show you how this comes into play.

But also I wanna show you how you're able to set prices on a dynamic level just for the specific instance of this gather. So meaning I've set a $500 allotment for the budget for the maximum set price for this. I do want all airlines that are available.

I don't wanna suppress any inventory. I only want people flying economy. And now how is it gonna get paid for? So we do have two stock options which is gonna be traveler responsible for payment.

That's it. Or they're responsible to pay and submit for reimbursement. Maybe it's a personal card or should you have company store payment? In this example I do here I want everything to be issued to my visa.

So I don't want anyone to have to worry about payment. I wanna make this as easy as possible either for the invited guests, the interview or whomever it may be that you're inviting. So two more things.

So now we have the flight configuration and rail. So that's done. Should we want to enable the hotel segment? So again, looks very similar to the air piece where we're saying when are they allowed to check in and check out? I actually said that they need to come in the night before.

So I need them to have an early arrival to be able to check in on that Monday. Should I wanna set a budget? I need you to stay within $150 for the lowest nightly rate. So that's what I'm gonna set for that.

Prepaid leisure rates. This is important because this right category is owned by Expedia Group. This is a third party.

And so again, so when we're including these they're a lot more restrictive than working what we call direct to hotel when it comes to sourcing and booking the hotels. So majority of the time we do see these prepaid leisure rates excluded. There are certain use cases.

Again, you can talk to your relationship manager here at Amtrak should you think you need to enable these but another discussion that we can have directly with you and your relationship manager here directly at Amtrak. Permitted star rating. I want refundable options only.

How do I want things paid? Again, so I'm actually gonna say the traveler is responsible for payment. Then also I can take it one step closer and say I actually want you and require you to stay at this specific hotel. I'm looking at this hotel from my office right now.

So I need you to book at the Crown Plaza. One important clarifying thing is we're building out the hotel segments. These are live individual reservations.

So meaning as the individual is booking, they are getting their own confirmation number and this is being booked direct to hotel on an individual level. Should you have a need for 10 or more rooms during a duration of time, please reach out to us. We will provide some follow-up email for our groups department.

My dear colleague, Anthea Hill manages our groups meetings and incentive department. And what they're able to do with 10 or more rooms is negotiate a room block contract for you. So should you have a specific hotel in mind or you want us to put a bid out in the area with specific parameters, price, amenities, we need conference room space, we need meeting space, things to that effect.

So you are able to reach out to our team offline and then we are able to facilitate and get you that contract. So again, if you'd love to learn more about that, please reach out to us. And again, we'll provide some feedback on that group's email as well.

So lastly, car rental. Should we wanna enable a car rental and someone's not gonna take an Uber, a Lyft or maybe even CTA? I mean, here we have pretty great transportation so I wouldn't necessarily rent a car. But I can say, all right, I will allow for someone to pick it up on that Monday.

Again, I told them they need to come in the night before. You have to drop it off on that Thursday. Should I wanna pick specific vendors? Say, all right, well, my agreement's with National so I want everyone to book National.

Set a daily rate, largest permitted car type. I'll go ahead and say midsize. And then also I'm gonna say that the traveler's responsible for payment just in this example here.

But again, all configurable, each gather instance is dynamic. One clarifying thing I do wanna make sure to cover is although we're offering all three of the logistical components, air, hotel and car to the invited guests or staff, they don't have to take all three. So maybe someone who's just booking the flight for whatever reason, maybe they have family here in the city and so they don't need the hotel.

I don't want to rent a car. I'm gonna take the CTA into the city so they can decline the need for it. So they can start with the flight.

Also on the flip side, should someone be local? So again, I do want for registration purposes, I wanna invite this individual to the gather to say if they're coming or not, but I don't need a flight. I live in the city. So just another use case that is not just because we're offering all three of the components does not mean the invited individual has to take them.

So a few more things as we're wrapping up here to get ready to invite individuals to the gather specifically. So trip approval. So a couple options when it comes here, no, meaning zero oversight.

You are putting 100% trust in these individuals in order for them to be able to book within the parameters that you deemed appropriate. So again, we're leaving it up to them with zero oversight. Yes, think of this as everything.

So regardless of policy breach, someone's not booking the correct cities. They're not arriving the night before. They're not departing at 5 p.m. in the example that we had said they're trying to fly first class.

Regardless of any of that, I don't care about price or policy breach. I wanna touch every single reservation. So think of yes as everything.

Third option would be only if there's a breach of policy. Again, everything that I just outlined, the economy class, dates, times, cities. Should there be a breach of policy or dates, times or city, then I need to approve it.

So I would say yes, and only if out of policy are probably the two most commonly used that we see. Rarely do we see anyone have zero oversight on the bookings, but of course it is an option. But I'm gonna say only if it's out of policy, and I'm actually gonna be the approver for this one.

All right, so then optional billing fields. So should your company, and again, just because we have a vast population of individuals that are on the webinar today, and so each of your programs are uniquely different. So should you be collecting any data at point of sale? So in my example here, I collect a reason for travel during the shopping process.

So also this is something we can configure for you now that you're seeing it. If there's data points that you think would be helpful for us to be able to collect either in a free form text box or a dropdown, again, reach out to your relationship manager. We will help you configure that.

So I'm actually gonna put in 2024 sales kickoff. And the reason that I like to preset the saved billing tags is it's view only for the individual and they don't have to fill it in. So should I leave this blank? They're gonna be responsible for putting something in there where now it's gonna be consistent with the reason for travel that I've already established.

We're gonna come right back to the invite link. So now we got through all of this. We built out all of the components, the approval workflow, the billing tags.

So who's going? So let's see. So we're gonna go ahead and we're gonna add attendees. Two different scenarios.

Employees, think of these as profiled staff that might use Amtrav outside of Gather. So again, they already have an established profile within Amtrav. So a single employee by typing in their name or multiple and multiple is just separated by commas but you can add as many as you would like or a single or multiple guests, meaning they are not profiled within your account.

They are an invited guest. We do want them to be able to book one time with all of the parameters and all the payment details that you put in there but they're guests, they're not staff. So those are the two differentiators.

And again, the multiple just separated by commas. But I'll go ahead and I'm just gonna put in my colleague, Fran, as an example. Policy to use.

Again, we're gonna come right back to this. I'm gonna select Gather so everyone can see why I did this. Lastly, but very important in this before we add this individual, the allow enable companion feature.

So should you enable that someone is allowed to bring a companion, this is being allocated and booked on the same form of payment that your invited staff or guest is. So we are not asking for an additional form of payment. They are being ticketed on the same confirmation.

They are staying in the same hotel. They are renting the same vehicle, all on the same payment details in which you have invited your staff or invited guests. So just wanna make sure to clarify on that.

And I'm gonna go ahead and I'm just gonna put one person in here as an example here. So now, so I started with just Fran. And again, I don't have to have everything ready at one place to launch.

So maybe I have a cluster of 10 people. Then I come back two days later and maybe now more registered. I have five more.

You can just continue to add on. And two different ways for you to be able to get this in front of your invited guests or staff. One is lower left-hand corner.

As you see invitation pending, that means we haven't sent anything to them yet. So when you click on the send invite, this gives you the option to customize who is it coming from, who's on the carbon copy, the subject line, and then also everything here that I've highlighted, this is all custom. And so you're able to convey anything that you want via our automated email template.

Also, when you use the automated email template, we have reminder emails that are on a very specific cadence. So those are going out the second day, the third day, the fifth day, the seventh day that someone has not responded to the invitation to book. Reason being is when you're inviting someone, we want them to book as soon as possible.

We don't want this to linger. So we have an automated process where we remind them once they opt in and say that they're RSVP-ing yes, but they haven't booked, all of that email communication is going to stop. But that really is the trigger, is them saying yes or no, are you coming? So this is the option for you to be able to send this invite right-hand side.

You're gonna see exactly how this comes across to the individual. The other option, which is the invite link here. And again, this is contingent upon all of the invited guests down below.

So the guest list is kind of like the truth to all of this. So again, who is the individual associated or multiple individuals associated with the gather? The invite link, this unique link. I do have a lot of customers where they prefer to put their own email copy together.

And they just say, when you're ready to book, click on this link. As long as they're registered within the gather, they'll be able to gain access to book through this unique link. Maybe you wanna put programming details or maybe it's an interview for a candidate and you're trying to give them details on how to navigate the building, how to get through security, who to contact.

Also, here's your interview schedule. But when you're ready, please click this link and you're able to book. So two different ways to be able to get this in front of your people.

So now I do want to clarify on two things. So one is for your staff who already uses Amtrak. They already have a profile.

So again, they're already familiar with our site. They're gonna see an invitation pending here on the left-hand side under C. So this is going to be anything that they have that's upcoming, but they haven't done anything yet. So again, this is where your staff will see that.

Your invited guests. The first thing we're gonna ask them to do is verify their email and then also create a matching unique password. Meaning, although the profile is not stored or associated with your account, it lives within the Amtrak hemisphere.

So should that individual book again with us, they can either reset their password or enter the password that they have. So again, the first thing that we do will also send you some supplemental information, a very quick video that my colleague Elliot have put together start to finish for the individual. But once they register, the first thing they do is RSVP yes or no.

Are you going? And then from there, the booking process starts. So again, in the flights and rail section, upper left-hand corner, we're gonna have dates, cities, times, all already configured for them in order to make informed decisions based on all of the parameters that you've deemed appropriate for the meeting. Something to also keep in mind as well.

We're not gonna stop the individual from requesting something that is not either correct dates, cities, times. What's gonna happen though, is they're gonna be reminded multiple times throughout the shopping process, you were supposed to arrive by 9 a.m. Are you sure you want to book this? It's going to either get sent for approval or based on the approval workflow, why I always encourage everyone to definitely consider putting either out of policy or all of the invitations. So we're not gonna stop them from requesting something, but we are going to prompt them multiple times that you are violating policy.

Lastly, I do just wanna show everyone, so two things, you can start to see down below how things kind of start to fall into buckets. So again, this individual is in progress. These invitations are pending.

You'll also see a completed bucket as well. So they'll start to fall into these different categories. And then you're gonna start to see the icons change color.

So green means that it was completed. Red means they didn't need it. Gray, it's offered, but they've done nothing with it.

So you're also able to pull this attendee list here. And what I see this widely used for is for you to target individuals that have taken zero action on the invitation. So I encourage people to pull this maybe every three days, maybe once a week.

All of these individuals, you can pull their email addresses out for anyone who hasn't done anything and reach out to them directly. So that's how I widely see that attendee list used in the beginning during the booking process. The other thing I wanna point out too, once you start to have data that's collected and people have booked within the gather, this flight report, this is your arrival departure manifest.

So all of the details on where is this individual coming from? What time are they landing in Chicago? What's their record locator? What airline are they flying? Was it operated by someone else? Their email address, all of that information, we put in a very, very easy to download report here under that flight report. So that will populate once we start to have some bookings offered within the gather itself. And I'd love to pause.

And Joe, I don't know how we wanna do questions. If we wanna let people on mute or I'll kind of leave it to you, but I'd love to see what's, yeah. Yeah, thanks for that.

We've got a few questions that have been submitted and also just point of clarification. I think the Zoom webinar, there's an error on the time. It's showing this for an hour.

Typically the tips and tricks webinars are set to 30 minutes, but we might go over a few over if we have from some extra questions, but I'll go ahead and just read in the ones that have been submitted. So we'll start off with the first one from Anne. What if an exec comes in the day before the whole rest of the company? How do we handle that? So I noticed that when you were setting up the meetings, you can set in those parameters kind of as a whole at the group level, but what if we're talking about execs or maybe it's a special guest? How do we go ahead and handle that for on an individual case? Yeah, no, so that's a great question.

So one is they could just book, even though it's telling them it's out of policy, we're still gonna let them request the dates that they want. So again, it'd be up to you to either approve or reject it. Should you wanna build them out their own gather? This is how I see this use.

So we'll use this customer success meeting. This option right here gives you the option to clone all of the details and all you need to change is the start and date times. And then you're able to reconfigure this just for one individual.

So I would consider building out the general population in the first one, and then using the clone option, rename it, maybe exec, something to that effect. So you know why we cloned this, but then you can just add those executives in there and then they won't be bothered with anything that's considered out of policy for dates and times. Thanks Kyle.

And a question from Christine, would it be possible to show very quickly what it looks like on the attendees and for what that booking experience looks like? Maybe just if we can do that for 30, 40 seconds, cause it is very easy. So yeah, happy to show that. Yeah, bear with me for a second.

All right. Okay. So as mentioned, the way that we got this in front of them while we were setting up the gather was either one through that unique link that you want to put in your own email copy, or they're going to see the exact email that you had seen during the template creation.

So once they receive that, they're going to click on book your trip. As mentioned for a guest, we ask them, can you please verify your email and create a password? From there, the view is going to look very similar to staff. So staff that have access within Amtrak only, they're not associated with your account.

They're only able to book one time. So what's going to happen is this invite section, I have one that's already, I'm already invited to this customer success meeting starting on the 15th. So first of all, I need to RSVP.

Am I coming? Yes, of course I'm coming. Absolutely. I'm looking forward to it.

As mentioned, should someone be local, they can decline the need for the flight and decline the need for accommodations for lodging as well. But I'm just going to show it. We won't go through the entire process, but just to give you an idea of how this looks.

As we said, you need to arrive the night before. Again, why it pre-populated the 14th for me. And again, 18th, it already has the headquarters here in Chicago based on the location of the meeting specifically and all of the airports that we've deemed appropriate.

And then let's just say I live in San Francisco. So that's the only thing we're not going to read. And so we ask them, of course, as mentioned, they can adjust these, but we're going to continue.

And also I'll show you how it looks for someone to book out a policy because this will be a great example. So we'll go ahead and we'll click search on this. And while that's loading the searches, also got a really cool question regarding split payments, whether we do that or not for users that have been invited into a gather group.

And the short answer is no, but that is a feature that we are currently working on and prioritizing on our roadmap. We can currently handle it offline for special occasions, for special exceptions for extra travelers or traveler paid upgrades. But please do look forward to split payments coming sometime in the next quarter or two.

Yep, absolutely. Yeah, as mentioned, as Joe said, we are happy to facilitate that for you offline. We're looking to automate the process online.

We're looking, we're really excited about that. But as it stands right now, we're happy to help you with split payment offline. So now this is the actual shopping process itself.

So for anyone that uses Amtrav, it's basically the exact same flight grid, only again, we pre-populated some information and now it's associated with this specific meeting. As mentioned again here, I said you need to arrive by X date. And again, I'm still trying to book something that is, I said you needed to arrive the night before.

So we're telling them right away that this is considered out of policy. Again, over here, same thing, first class. Again, so now not only am I violating the ticket price, economy class travel is required, and then also I need to arrive by a certain date.

So again, I'll go ahead and I will request this just so everyone can get an idea of how like the entire process looks. I won't click purchase on it, but again, flight review page, we just wanna make sure this is our city dates, times, exactly what you're intending to book, fare rules, a reminder again, second time now that we're saying you're violating these policies. So not only now, I'm not arriving on time, I'm trying to depart early.

Like my boss isn't gonna like that. So I'll go ahead and I'll click continue on this one. And then two different scenarios here.

So one, if this is profiled staff, we're pulling all their direct AmTrav information in here. So all of their loyalty information, known traveler, global entry, United program numbers, date of birth, all of that information is pre-populated and stored in their profile. Your invited guests will have the option to number one, fill out their profile before they start shopping, or they can just fill it in on the purchase page.

Maybe they are only gonna use it one time. So they don't wanna go through the whole motions of doing it, no problem. When they get to the purchase page, all of this will be blank.

And should they be applicable aside from required TSA information, we will let them just type it up on the purchase page. So again, that payment is directly stored. I can't change that.

I'm forcing payment on this. I need everyone to use that. Again, myself, I'm receiving this confirmation.

Also, my account has an overarching rule where my travel inbox always receives this. So then a trip title, this is always gonna default to the meeting name and then also reason for travel. So in this example, I didn't have the preset option as I did for the kickoff meeting.

So the invited guests, they're required to know what to put in here. So that's why I always encourage you to fill out and pre-populate it should it not vary for the population of whoever is in that gather meeting. Again, third time out of policy, four different violations.

So again, sure, we're gonna let you try and continue with it. So number one, they select the generic reason from the dropdown as to why they're violating policy. I'll go ahead and I'll say other multiple.

Now, they are required to put an explanation in detail. So should they have a compelling case in order for them to not come in on time and depart the meeting early, then sure, that's up to you to either approve or reject based on what the individual's presented to you. So this is where we give them the opportunity to communicate this to you.

Very important to keep in mind with the approval and the approval workflow. So when approval is required, it will get sent out immediately. So that's gonna go out to you.

We know it requires approval. If you don't get back to us within 12 hours, we're gonna send you a reminder. If you don't get back to us within 24 hours, we legally have to release that space.

The airlines will not let us hold that space for longer than 24 hours. Approvals are time-sensitive not only because we do need to get back within that 24-hour mark, but also the price and the availability is subject to change and sell out until it's confirmed. So should you have the approvals enabled, make sure you're staying on top of them.

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