78% of business travelers in the U.S. say they prefer to use self-service technology to manage their business travel, according to a 2016 study from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). For travel managers, that’s an opportunity to optimize your corporate travel program for the mobile era. Doing so adds value to your business travelers and your company by helping increase traveler satisfaction and, as a result, policy compliance.
Mobile assistance options for business travel have historically lagged behind that for leisure, but now, the mobile business travel experience is catching up. More and more options that use the power of artificial intelligence (AI) are on the market. The key is to find the one that will work best for your travel program and your travelers.
Start by devising a mobile travel strategy
As recently as 2016, 69% of travel managers surveyed said their travel programs did not have a mobile strategy in place. An effective mobile strategy is about more than finding the right app. Instead, make sure you think about how all the aspects of your travel program will fit together. Do you already use an online booking tool (OBT)? Does your travel management company (TMC) offer a good solution? What features are most important to your employees? What about the company? A well-devised plan can set you up for success.
As part of the same GBTA survey, travel managers recognized the biggest opportunities of implementing a mobile strategy: increased traveler engagement was the top answer followed by increased compliance, reduced off-program bookings, and lower transaction costs. Each of these is a smart reason for exploring your options.
Top features to look for in a mobile experience
It’s about creating an environment that’s valuable and easy to use or your employees will go elsewhere. They most likely use apps for personal travel where they’re comfortable with the interface, and that may work for the traveler, but that doesn’t help encourage compliance of your travel policy. If you can provide an option with centralized features helpful for pre, during, and post-trip activities, you give employees a reason to use it — and to keep coming back.
Business travelers may even be pleasantly surprised at the functionality geared specifically for enhancing the business travel experience. For example, look for mobile apps, such as Sam from Corporate Traveler, that use AI to learn travelers’ habits and preferences in order to deliver more personalized, helpful interactions. Other features to look for include the ability to:
- Automatically upload trip itinerary
- Make or update travel reservations within company policy
- Arrange transportation to and from the airport
- Upload receipts and expenses
On top of that, duty of care features make it easier for companies to keep track of travelers and to get in touch with them in the event of an emergency or incident.
Seamless integration with your company’s OBT is, of course, also very important for your chosen mobile solution. If travelers can have the same access via mobile as they do through the tool, they’ll be more likely to rely on it. Live chat features can enhance this part of the experience.
A general rule to remember when exploring mobile travel options? The more effortless to use, the better.