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The Innovate Conference for the Advancement of Business Travel offered business travel executives the opportunity to articulate priorities and recommendations.
However nimble a corporate travel program might be, changes
to its culture inevitably occur more slowly than did the rapid, massive embrace
by business travelers of mobile technology. With smartphones ubiquitous and
tablets rapidly gaining in popularity, corporations have had no choice but to
at least consider the impact of mobile services on their travel programs, but
no consensus has been reached on the proper role of mobile technology.
[Please click here to view the digital edition of the Mobile Travel Services research report,
featuring all charted data, downloadable as a pdf.]
Today's travel buyers must grapple with issues like whether
their corporation should allow business travel bookings on personal devices,
whether it should offer or recommend to its travelers specific apps and the
most suitable role regarding mobile technology for travel management companies
or other intermediaries. Opinions vary.
Business Travel News
last month conducted a survey of corporate travel and meeting managers and
buyers to assess the level of support for mobile technology within corporate travel
programs, including mobile communications strategies, policies and any
recommendations of travel apps.
Those current corporate strategies didn't get a warm
reception from survey respondents. When asked to rate on an ascending scale of
one to six their satisfaction with their companies' mobile travel technology
management strategies, 6 percent of respondents chose a six—the highest level
of satisfaction. About 29 percent chose one or two, and the average was 3.3.
Some respondents' lack of satisfaction could be due to their
companies' lack of a strategy, at least in the respondents' perceptions. One in
five respondents indicated that their company has a mobile communications plan
for travel, while 46 percent said their companies do not. The remainder indicated
their strategies still were in development.
About a third of all respondents indicated their companies'
mobile communications strategies addressed the management of mobile phone
subscription plans and data and roaming costs. About that many said strategies
covered the use of mobile phones during emergencies. For travel-related uses,
fewer respondents—between 25 percent and 30 percent of the total set—indicated
that their companies recommend procedures or have devised policies around
travelers' use of mobile devices to manage itineraries, book or rebook air
travel and file expense reports.
While many buyers' strategies regarding mobile technology
still may be under development, travel suppliers in all sectors are assessing
the best fit for mobile services among their offerings. This issue of Business Travel News explores the
various services offered to corporate travelers and managed programs by
traditional airline, lodging, payment, car rental and meetings technology
suppliers, as well as mobile upstarts.
One goal of those suppliers, as well as intermediaries like
travel management companies and travel technology firms, is to secure approval
from clients for their travelers to use such mobile services. According to the BTN survey, only for one such
service—airline check-in—did more than half of the respondents indicate their
companies either recommend or approve of employees' use of an app or
Along with mobile airline check-in, itinerary management was
one of the first mobile services to gain popularity among corporate travelers,
and half of survey respondents indicated their companies offer or recommend use
of such technology. While the ability to check into a hotel with a mobile
device didn't develop quite as quickly as it did for airlines, 44 percent of
respondents indicated their companies at least okayed it as an option.
None of the 10 other travel services listed in the survey
were selected by more than 40 percent of respondents as functions for which the
use of apps were approved or recommend by their companies. They include such
items as expense report creation, submission and approval; the ability to
receive company-provided traveler alerts, emergency assistance programs, travel
policies and preferred vendor information; and the ability to share travelers'
trip plans with their colleagues.
In fact, 26 percent of respondents indicated their companies
don't authorize travelers to use any mobile travel services. However, most
would like their companies to do so, at least for some services. At least half
of all respondents selected each of the aforementioned services when asked if
they would like their companies to approve or recommend such apps or mobile
sites. Meanwhile, 36 percent want the company-approved ability to shop for
travel with mobile devices, and 39 percent want to register for meetings
through an app with the company's OK. A bit more than one in 10 respondents don't
want their companies to approve use of any travel apps at all.
Further, some companies directly provide apps to their
travelers, according to the survey, or at least approve of specific apps for
their travelers to use. About 30 percent of respondents indicated their
companies provide or at least approve of an app or mobile site developed by a
travel management company and/or a travel booking tool. TMCs have taken markedly
different mobile service approaches thus far in addressing the corporate travel
A plurality of respondents, 46 percent, indicated their
companies neither provide mobile technology nor recommend specific apps. A
small handful, though (6 percent), indicated their companies developed their
own apps to distribute to travelers.
Business Travel News
in March 2013 conducted this survey through online polling tool SurveyMonkey.
Email invitations with direct links to the survey were sent to all BTN and Travel Procurement subscribers with corporate travel and meetings
responsibilities who provided email addresses, including members of the BTN Research Council. To qualify,
respondents must have been involved in corporate travel management, corporate
travel procurement and/or corporate meetings management. Of the 150 qualified
respondents, 76 percent indicated they set corporate travel policies, 81
percent managed business travel cost controls, 73 percent negotiated rates for
transient travelers and 49 percent selected or recommended meeting facilities
or meeting destinations. Responses were not tabulated from those who did not
select at least one of these functions.
About 19 percent of respondents indicated that their organizations'
2012 U.S.-booked air volume was $500,000 or less; 5 percent indicated $500,000
to $1 million, 10 percent indicated $1.1 million to $2 million, 21 percent
indicated $2.1 million to $11.9 million, 9 percent indicated $12 million to $20
million, and 21 percent indicated more than $20 million. Respondents'
organizations represented a mix of industries, including manufacturing (15
percent), pharmaceuticals and medical (9 percent), technology (8 percent),
finance and insurance (7 percent) and consulting and accounting (5 percent).
About 16 percent of respondents indicated their organization employed less than
100 people, while 17 percent indicated their organization had between 100 and
999 employees, 31 percent indicated their organization had between 1,000 and
9,999 employees, and 36 indicated their organization employed at least 10,000
Respondents were asked to identify the average age of their
organizations' traveling employees; 17 percent indicated they did not know. Of
the remainder, 2 percent indicated their travelers' average age was under 25
years old, 18 percent said it was 25 to 34, half indicated it was 35 to 44, 24
percent indicated it was 45 to 54, 7 percent said it was 55 to 64. No
respondent indicated that their travelers' average age was 65 or older.
Unless otherwise noted, data displayed in this report have
been rounded to the nearest whole number and in some cases may total more than
100 percent. Data derived from questions that asked respondents to select all
applicable answers are marked as such.
originally appeared in the April 15, 2013, edition of Business Travel News.
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