Corporates preparing for Travel '3.0'. Part 2: Mobile solutions on offer by technology providers and TMCs

25 January, 2017

The business travel environment continues to change rapidly. Experts believe the industry has entered a new era, characterised by technology and social networks. For corporates, the new reality, dubbed ‘Travel 3.0’, requires significant changes in policy, process and technology.

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the increasing use of technology by corporate travellers and their travel managers. In Part 2, as the corporate travel industry remains focused on connectivity, we look at emerging technology entering the market and what steps are being taken to offer solutions to increasingly demanding corporate travellers and their travel managers.

Technology provider Amadeus, which is thought to have coined the Travel 3.0 name, notes that mobile phones - in particular, smartphones- allow the traveller and the TMC to:

“move beyond the traditional booking to create a truly connected travel experience, pre-, during and post-trip”.

Historically, one of the drawbacks of the previous online booking tools was the need for a fully functional browser to access booking data, making it difficult to interact through some mobile phones. Furthermore, travellers often had difficulty changing itineraries on the road. Indeed, some booking tools still struggle to accommodate changes after approval and ticketing.

Amadeus stresses that smartphones have enabled travellers to become more self-reliant, providing one-touch access to alternative flights during disruptions, for example. It adds that the real power of the mobile phone is location awareness. This will allow travellers to familiarise themselves with their destinations, access local services and connect with colleagues.

Travel providers including mobile technology in their booking and travel management solutions

While full mobile integration may still be some way off, a number of technology providers already accommodate mobile in their booking and travel management solutions.

  • Serko Mobile claims to be the region’s first purpose-built mobile app for business travel and expense management. The app allows users to book Australian and New Zealand domestic and trans-Tasman flights and hotels; change or cancel bookings before and/or during a trip; view complete travel itineraries offline or online; check in on mobile for Air New Zealand, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar flights; get GPS-linked airport travel time alerts; receive flight delay and cancellation alerts; capture and submit expense items online or offline; share travel itineraries with colleagues and family; track checked luggage; and contact their TMC.
  • Self-booking pioneer Sabre announced in 2016 that it is developing an integrated product platform to power itinerary management, policy-compliant booking mid-trip, and payment and expense management on travellers’ mobile devices. Sabre is integrating several of its products into one intuitive mobile platform: the online booking capabilities of GetThere, the itinerary management of TripCase, Sabre’s Virtual Payments solution, as well as relationships with industry-leading expense management services.

“The new solution will simplify the travel management process and enhance business traveller satisfaction while improving corporate travel programme compliance and reducing costs for corporations.”

  • In Jun-2016, Amadeus introduced its Mobile Messenger app, offering several Duty of Care tools including instant traveller location, automated real-time traveller data and filtering, one- and two-way communication and optimised workflows. Amadeus claims:

"Mobile Messenger keeps people informed every step of the way, which we believe is what modern travellers want most – to know what’s happening and have timely information that’s personalised and relevant to them”.

  • Travelport’s Locomote app, launched in Dec-2016, allows travellers to update changes to their itinerary, make last-minute flight and accommodation bookings, receive trip notifications, update and view travel itineraries, request approvals and approve requests and, importantly, stay in touch with the office to ensure duty of care obligations are met.
  • Concur offers two mobile solutions: Concur for Mobile which complements the cloud-based Concur Expense solution and TripIt Pro. The expense solution allows travellers to capture receipts with their smartphone, upload ATO-compliant images directly to expense claims, immediately approve or reject expense claims via manager access and even add car mileage to an expense claim. TripIt Pro, meanwhile, allows users to book flights, rail or hotels from their mobile or tablet device, receive flight alerts and view alternate flight options, track frequent traveller point programmes, monitor potential airfare refunds and access trip sharing.
  • Corporate Travel Management is offering its legacy Lightening tool which allows end-to-end bookings on a mobile device. It boasts an in-built pre-trip approval system, and complete policy configuration and flexibility. CTM’s mobile arsenal also includes CTM Mobile, which allows corporate travellers and their travel arrangers to book every aspect of business travel (air, hotel and car hire) from their mobile device and within company policy, “giving travellers more flexibility and accessibility than ever before”.
  • Carlson Wagonlit Travel is offering its customers access to its free CWT To Go. The tool gives travellers immediate access, via their smartphone or tablet, to itineraries, flight alerts and mobile check-ins. It also allows for hotel bookings and helps travellers manage their loyalty programme and corporate card details on the move.
  • American Express Global Business Travel has customised the TripCase platform to deliver its mobile and web itinerary management solution. The seamless data integration allows business travellers to view itineraries before and during a trip – and get alerts and flight status notifications, if things change.

While the crop of new apps makes it easier for travellers to manage their own trips while they’re on the go, it is important that the tools are appropriately configured to organisations’ travel policies and processes. It is also crucial that travellers are informed and aware about which apps are appropriate and which fall outside the travel policy.

Finally, increased reliance on mobile devices makes connectivity vital – if travellers can’t connect to the Internet, they will not be able to access the services and assistance on which they are becoming increasingly dependent.