Business travellers embracing self-service technology and personalized travel options

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New study identifies which apps business travellers use and why

Mobile technology continues to make it easier for travellers to manage their own travel while in-transit and the majority of global business travellers are embracing this trend, according to a new study released from the GBTA Foundation in partnership with Sabre Corporation. More than seven in 10 business travellers in the United States (78 per cent), Italy (77 per cent), Canada (74 per cent) and Spain (73 per cent) prefer using self-service technology to manage their travel, while the rate is slightly lower for the Nordic countries (60 per cent) and Germany (56 per cent).

In North America and Europe, the vast majority of business travellers also want to receive personalized travel options. However, even though business travellers want personalized options, they are hesitant to share too much personal information to obtain them. They are commonly willing to share details such as their frequent flyer or hotel loyalty number, preferred airline and hotel brands and aircraft seat preferences, but fewer than half would share their travel history, preferred leisure activities while travelling, their business calendar with booked appointments and their social media account names.

“Technological innovation has given business travellers greater control of their own travel, but that doesn’t need to mean trouble for a managed travel program,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA Executive Director and COO. “Travel buyers can recommend apps for their travellers to help drive compliance and can also take advantage of technology to track and more easily assist their travellers in case of an emergency, helping fulfill their duty of care requirements.”

“This report demonstrates how corporate travellers look to technology to make travel a more seamless experience. But it also reflects a crowded and fragmented technology landscape where travellers have to use multiple apps and services to manage their trip,” said Clinton Anderson, senior vice president, strategy and traveller experience for Sabre Corporation. “We see an opportunity to integrate critical technologies into a single platform to help business travellers throughout their entire trip. This will dramatically increase traveller satisfaction while improving program compliance and reducing costs for corporations.”

Road warriors and travel apps

Business travellers use a variety of travel-related mobile apps during their trips, but in all countries surveyed, supplier apps are more commonly used than travel management company (TMC), itinerary management and expense management apps.

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The most common uses for travel-related mobile apps by North American business travellers include flight check-in/status, generating an online boarding pass and booking hotels and flights. In the European countries surveyed, business travellers use travel-related apps for many of the same reasons as their North American counterparts. However, compared with U.S.-based business travellers, Germany and Nordic-based travellers are less likely to use travel-related apps for booking, while Spain-based travellers are more likely to do so. The European business travellers surveyed were also more likely to use apps to book rail or train than North Americans and were less likely to use them to request a ride-sharing service or taxi.

Most companies don’t require or recommend travel apps as only one-fifth or fewer say their organization has specific apps they require for business travel and about half in each country say their organization does not recommend any travel apps.

Mobile payment and millennials

Given the opportunity, many business travellers would likely use mobile payment or e-wallet technology. The share likely to do so ranges from 43 per cent in the Nordic countries all the way up to 75 per cent in Italy. Millennials and Gen-X travellers are much more likely than Baby Boomers to want to use mobile payments.

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Technology and duty of care

Mobile apps commonly developed by TMCs or third-party safety or security firms can assist with duty of care by allowing travellers to check-in with their company upon arrival at a destination or by allowing companies to track their employees’ location and send push notifications in an emergency among other features. Only a small share of travellers use these apps, however. Only 22 per cent of survey respondents have used a mobile app to check-in with their company during a trip over the past year and even fewer (15 per cent) have used a mobile app that allows their company to track their location. Still, despite low use, 63 per cent said they would allow their company to track their location via their mobile device for duty of care purposes.

Methodology and More Information:

An online survey of 756 business travellers in nine countries was fielded between March 21 and April 3, 2016. The countries included the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The four Nordic countries are grouped together and referred to as one region throughout the report. Respondents qualified if they were employed full-time and had travelled for business in the past year.

The Digital Business Traveller: A Survey of Business Travellers in North America, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Nordic Countries report is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing [email protected]

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