ALEXANDRIA, VA – Mobile technology continues to make it easier for travelers to manage their own travel while in-transit and the majority of global business travelers are embracing this trend, according to a new study released from the GBTA Foundation in partnership with Sabre Corporation. More than 7 in 10 business travelers in the United States (78 percent), Italy (77 percent), Canada (74 percent) and Spain (73 percent) prefer using self-service technology to manage their travel, while the rate is slightly lower for the Nordic countries (60 percent) and Germany (56 percent).
In North America and Europe, the vast majority of business travelers also want to receive personalized travel options. However, even though business travelers 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 traveling, their business calendar with booked appointments and their social media account names.
“Technological innovation has given business travelers 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 travelers to help drive compliance and can also take advantage of technology to track and more easily assist their travelers in case of an emergency, helping fulfill their duty of care requirements.”
“This report demonstrates how corporate travelers look to technology to make travel a more seamless experience. But it also reflects a crowded and fragmented technology landscape where travelers have to use multiple apps and services to manage their trip,” said Clinton Anderson, senior vice president, strategy and traveler experience for Sabre Corporation. “We see an opportunity to integrate critical technologies into a single platform to help business travelers throughout their entire trip. This will dramatically increase traveler satisfaction while improving program compliance and reducing costs for corporations.”
Road Warriors & Travel Apps
Business travelers 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.
The most common uses for travel-related mobile apps by North American business travelers include flight check-in/status, generating an online boarding pass and booking hotels and flights. In the European countries surveyed, business travelers use travel-related apps for many of the same reasons as their North American counterparts. However, compared with U.S.-based business travelers, Germany and Nordic-based travelers are less likely to use travel-related apps for booking, while Spain-based travelers are more likely to do so. The European business travelers 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 & Millennials
Given the opportunity, many business travelers would likely use mobile payment or e-wallet technology. The share likely to do so ranges from 43 percent in the Nordic countries all the way up to 75 percent in Italy. Millennials and Gen-X travelers are much more likely than Baby Boomers to want to use mobile payments.
Technology & Duty of Care
Mobile apps commonly developed by TMCs or third-party safety or security firms can assist with duty of care by allowing travelers 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 travelers use these apps, however. Only 22 percent 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 percent) have used a mobile app that allows their company to track their location. Still, despite low use, 63 percent said they would allow their company to track their location via their mobile device for duty of care purposes.