Travel management has changed considerably over the past decade thanks to the introduction of online platforms that make it easier to book business trips. Previously, booking corporate travel was cumbersome as processes were much more manual and time-consuming. Now, technological tools let you do everything from selecting preferred airline seats to checking into hotels, receiving travel updates, and booking rental cars without really having to speak to anyone. It can all be done online.
2016 and beyond will be no different. Mobile and big data technologies will allow travellers to be incredibly productive on the road right from their smartphone. From wearables to artificial intelligence and gamification, travel management services will continue to be redefined.
Incorporate gamification into booking
One of the greatest challenges of travel management is getting employees to comply with corporate policies such as using company sanctioned technology for booking travel and staying within spending limits. As a result, some companies are looking to “gamify” good spend management practices by providing employees with rewards for meeting or exceeding targets. For example, some companies might specify hotel pricing limits in their destination and offer a reward for 50% of the difference if they beat the benchmark price given to them. Cost savings like these could then be used for upgrading a future business trip, or extending their work travel into a leisure stay (commonly referred to as bleisure). Other incentives might include massages, hotel spa certificates, or complimentary dinners and drinks at specialty restaurants near their destination.
Consider predictive travel recommendations
Travel management is also becoming “smarter” by integrating artificial intelligence into technologies to make predictive recommendations for travellers and travel managers. Applications can provide suggestions such as what cities to avoid if there are numerous events or conferences taking place which typically causes hotel and airline rates to go up. Similarly, booking travel further in advance, even during peak seasons, will become more affordable as a result of cost prediction innovations. The way price prediction works is based on seasonal costs, and historical travel spends data that comes from internal and external booking systems so that travel and finance managers can better project costs. For example, the week before Christmas is always one of the most expensive times for booking travel. However, real-time data tools allow you to spot trends where hotels and airlines are pre-booking fast so that you schedule trips when there are cost-savings even during peak travel times.
Leverage wearables for greater mobility
While already popular for fitness tracking, wearable devices such as the Apple Watch will see greater adoption in 2016 and beyond for business travel. While still in its early stages, business travellers can use the Apple Watch and similar gadgets to receive alerts about trip changes, replace easy-to-lose key cards, and check in for their flight in advance. Hotel like Starwood and Hilton are examples of brands who have already introduced mobile check-in and electronic room keys that can be accessible from wearable devices. These features make business travel more seamless by letting you bypass the front desk so you can check in faster and get right to work, or wind down in your hotel room after a long flight. In the future, wearables are also expected to further simplify travel management further by letting you simplify the entire booking process including one-click upgrades and instant bookings.
Therefore, businesses who want to do away with old tools and cumbersome booking processes should further explore travel management solutions like these. By incorporating such technologies, costs can be reduced, traveller productivity increased, and business travel improved as a whole as demonstrated here.
Written by Ross Fastuca @Locomote