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It’s likely that any corporate traveller has a well-refined selection of mobile applications in their arsenal. They have their business essentials, like Google Maps, Uber, GateGuru and Expensify. Then they may have their complementary platforms like Duolingo for languages and AroundMe for local insights.

The point is, we all know what mobile applications can bring to an international travel experience. We decide which ones are worthwhile, which ones are not, and which ones we just don’t understand. Apps are personal and down to preference, much like clothing.

Therefore, this won’t be an article listing the best travel apps for corporate travellers. For recommendations on worthwhile apps for travellers, you can visit our article, ’Top 10 Apps Transforming the Travel Industry’ here.

This article will explore why it is that mobile applications have become the lifeblood of international travel. We dive into the evolution of mobile, how carriers are responding to traveller frustrations, what the Internet of Things will mean for the end-to-end travel experience and how real-time data is the only data worth knowing.

 

Mobile Apps, Then and Now

Mobile applications began as a novelty. They were something to fiddle with when the bus was late, and something to keep the kids entertained in dentist reception rooms. They began as distractions, like Nokia’s wildly popular Snake game in the late 1990s. 

Today, however, they power our communication with family and friends, they manage our finances, they guide our way around cities, and they teach us any language we choose.

Mobiles applications are indispensable extensions of our daily life. A fact reflected in the statistic that 90% of time people spend on mobile devices is spent in-app rather than on the web. 

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The travel industry knows firsthand how lucrative the mobile app market can be. However, this isn’t to say that any airline with a smartphone app will succeed. Apps must solve problems, or they’re not worth real estate on the home screen. This difficult reality for businesses is demonstrated by the fact that 26% of apps are deleted after the first use.

So what are the problems that travellers are facing, and how are they being alleviated by mobile applications?

 

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Apps Transforming the Airport Experience

From language barriers to high-stakes meetings, corporate travellers face challenges throughout the entire duration of their trip. However, few can be as stressful or frustrating as simply leaving the airport.

Even the most seasoned corporate travellers can find themselves flustered by lengthy queues, misinformation, belligerent passengers and confusing terminals.

In fact, 66.6.% of international travellers say that flight delays and cancellations are their main sources of travel stress.

When it comes to mobile applications, where there is frustration there is opportunity. So it’s little wonder that day-of-travel mobile applications are big business. 

Free apps like GateGuru display information on flights, airports and itinerary changes. Their acquisition by TripAdvisor in 2013 demonstrates the rise of real-time data in enriching the traveller’s day-of-travel experience. 

Airlines are also addressing these passenger frustrations, enjoying improved customer retention and positive consumer sentiment as a result. United Airlines’ smartphone application, for example, offers mobile boarding pass cards, an automated ‘travel assistant’ who relays flight information leading up to departure, flight status snapshots and airport maps, among other features. 

Carriers can’t afford to neglect the frustrations their customers endure in airports around the world. And with the travel industry spending a reported $128.9 million on Internet of Things projects in 2015, it doesn’t look like they plan to. 

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Dave Bartlett, the technology chief at GE Aviation believes the Internet of Things will transform the airport experience of corporate travellers.

“For example, being able to track your bags from a smartphone app, or even the bags tracking you,” he says.

It’s clear that travellers demand immediacy, transparency and availability in their data, which is why anything less than real-time won’t cut it when it comes to navigating the challenges of the airport.

  

Apps Enriching the End-to-End Experience of Corporate Travellers

This demand for data extends beyond the airport terminal. For example, the emotionally and physically taxing nature of corporate travel has been the catalyst for mobile applications that monitor and encourage the health of travellers. 

Furthermore, streamlined data flow between travel managers at home base and travel teams abroad has become essential to any corporate travel experience. Booking, messaging and risk management has to be timely and accessible to travel teams anywhere in the world.

Corporate travellers now demand information as it unfolds, whether through push notifications from an itinerary tracker, mobile alerts from their managers or health updates from a wearable device. If real-time information is critical to fuelling a successful business trip, flexibility will be the next frontier for the industry. 

The virtual and extended reality market hit an unexpected bump in the road with the failure of Google Glass. However, the travel industry faces a captivating opportunity to further transform the end-to-end traveller experience with flexible, customisable, virtual interfaces. Like real-time data is providing convenience and transparency, virtual reality technologies will empower travellers with flexibility.

For more information on the trends that are redefining business travel, download your free eGuide, '5 Corporate Travel Trends to Watch in 2017' below:

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