It's GOOD TO Talk

[ BOOK­ING TRENDS ]

The Business Travel Magazine - - Technology - Linda Fox

The one thing that was con­spic­u­ous by its ab­sence in sev­eral pieces of re­cent re­search on tech­nol­ogy in cor­po­rate travel was the ap­par­ent lack of drive for travel trans­ac­tions on mo­bile phones.

If you cast your minds back a cou­ple of years ago, there was a bit of a race to get book­ing func­tion­al­ity, es­pe­cially for ho­tels, up and run­ning on the var­i­ous cor­po­rate travel ap­pli­ca­tions. But the lat­est stud­ies - Ad­van­tage Travel Part­ner­ship’s white pa­per and Trav­el­port’s Global Dig­i­tal Trav­eller re­search – paint a slightly dif­fer­ent pic­ture.

While there is a huge amount of dis­cus­sion now around the im­por­tance of putting the trav­eller ex­pe­ri­ence first – and ac­cord­ing to Ad­van­tage “at the heart of the process” – what that pretty much comes down to is con­nec­tiv­ity and con­ve­nience in terms of be­ing able to leave things and then pick up where a trav­eller left off across what­ever de­vice they choose.

As a con­sor­tium of smaller travel man­age­ment com­pa­nies it is per­haps not sur­pris­ing that the Ad­van­tage white pa­per talks about the im­por­tance of on­go­ing hu­man in­ter­ac­tion, with the role of tech­nol­ogy en­hanc­ing TMCS' re­la­tions with their cor­po­rate clients.

And while the Trav­el­port study hones in on the habits of UK mil­len­nial trav­ellers, some­times viewed as the silent trav­eller, it also high­lights the im­por­tance of hu­mans, es­pe­cially if some­thing is go­ing wrong.

The study re­veals that 42% of UK mil­len­nial busi­ness trav­ellers de­scribe be­ing un­able to get ad­vice from hu­man con­sul­tants dur­ing the book­ing process as a com­mon pain­point.

The idea that busi­ness trav­ellers, es­pe­cially mil­len­ni­als, want to do ev­ery­thing them­selves isn’t nec­es­sar­ily true. They do want ac­cess to mo­bile book­ing ca­pa­bil­ity and on­line book­ing tools that mir­ror their con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ence, but there is per­haps a lit­tle too much fo­cus on mo­bile as the ul­ti­mate trans­ac­tion medium.

Si­mon Fer­gu­son, Trav­el­port Vice Pres­i­dent and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor for North­ern Europe, says it’s more about man­ag­ing the whole trip in the mo­bile en­vi­ron­ment and comes back to that need for “con­ve­nience, speed and ease of use”.

Fer­gu­son adds that travel man­agers should be think­ing of mo­bile as an en­gage­ment medium and some­thing to be used to en­cour­age and in­flu­ence the right book­ing be­hav­iour.

Book­ing busi­ness trips via mo­bile will likely be­come more widely sought af­ter as tech­nol­ogy im­proves while chat­bots and in­creas­ingly voice search are ar­eas that could also help. The Trav­el­port re­search re­veals 56% of mil­len­nial busi­ness trav­ellers in the UK al­ready use voice search in the travel plan­ning process and there are wider pre­dic­tions out there that 30% of all searches will be done with­out a screen by 2020.

The po­ten­tial for voice as a means to book and man­age busi­ness travel is ex­cit­ing. Trav­el­port’s Fer­gu­son high­lighted a leisure ex­am­ple with an on­line travel com­pany ex­per­i­ment­ing with Alexa that could eas­ily trans­late into the cor­po­rate travel world. In the leisure ex­per­i­ment Alexa hooks into a dig­i­tal travel pro­file which knows data on health, pay­ment, cal­en­dar, fre­quent flyer and ho­tel pref­er­ences, to make travel rec­om­men­da­tions. If, or should that be when, it’s hooked into a busi­ness trav­eller’s pro­file with his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion, it starts to look very in­ter­est­ing in terms of not only a more user-friendly ex­pe­ri­ence for trav­ellers but maybe also in terms of analysing best times to travel and find­ing po­ten­tial sav­ings.

While mo­bile book­ing tools were once the holy grail, chat­bots and voice search could take travel book­ing to the next level, writes

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