For today’s business travellers, technology is everything. They measure how satisfied they were with a trip based on how technology, mostly mobile, makes their overall experience easier. We recently surveyed global business travellers* and 66% say they want to book and manage their travel across all their devices. Not only that – 55% say they want to be able to do more on mobile, like check into their hotel or secure their hire car. Words speak louder than actions. Despite the desire to use mobile more on work trips, business travellers have been surprisingly slow to adopt travel apps, especially from TMCs. Instead, they continue to visit supplier and TMC websites to manage all aspects of travel, from booking to making changes to contacting customer service. As innovation rapidly increases, we expect more business travellers to embrace mobile. But technology alone won’t drive adoption. Travel managers need to embrace and promote TMC mobile solutions as a critical travel management tool that helps increase compliance, facilitate better duty of care and improve the in-journey experience. Why? Because not only will business travellers enjoy a faster, more personalised experience on any mobile device, but travel managers, arrangers and assistants will benefit as well. Mobile advancements will better equip travel professionals to keep up with traveller expectations, communicate quickly during travel disruptions, improve negotiating power through consolidated data and drive overall programme satisfaction. So, what advancements in mobile should you expect soon? Here are some macro trends worth keeping an eye on:
- Artificial Intelligence (AI): We expect to see advancements in areas of AI, including machine learning, deep learning and natural language processing later this year, according to Deloitte. The use of these technologies make the search, booking and customer care experiences smarter, and will deliver more personalised information faster than before. For example, some travel apps use voice recognition to take commands from travellers then deliver personalised information to them on their mobile device, tablet or wrist.
- Smart Data: Smart Data is all about gathering predictive insights from large pools of data to help inform decisions. IBM Watson introduced Insight Cloud Services to help companies intelligently gather, manage and act upon smart data. Increasingly, TMCs are implementing similar systems to analyse traveller behaviours on the road and optimise mobile experiences with new and improved features that make the lives of travel managers, arrangers and assistants easier.
- Internet of Things (IoT): While there has been a lot of hype around IoT over the past decade, a recent study conducted by Tata Consultancy Services found significantly higher investments from companies in the travel and hospitality industry. Major players are experimenting with IoT to help improve travel experiences, including Delta’s baggage tracking technology, Disney’s MagicBand programme and Aloft Hotels’ voice-activated hotel rooms. From a traveller perspective, the IoT could drive further personalisation as the places that road warriors frequent can store their preferences based on mobile location, whereas travel managers must consider the implications IoT brings in terms of data security and privacy.
While many of these advancements are still in the early stages, it’s not too soon to build a mobile strategy. Now is the time for travel professionals to talk to their TMC about the capabilities of its mobile solutions and implement a marketing strategy to encourage traveller adoption. With travellers on board, it will make it easier for travel managers to manage travel policies more effectively, monitor travel activity and maintain duty of care and compliance as new capabilities emerge. Having a strategy in place – for today, tomorrow and the future – will pay dividends in the long term. You can look forward to learning more about the connection between emerging technology and traveller satisfaction in our next blog post. (Take a look at our Ditch the TechSpeak glossary for a deeper dive into the emerging tech terms. To experience the Egencia app, download it for free for iOS and Android!) *4th edition, Egencia Business Travel and Technology survey to be released next month.