77% of all Americans – and 92% of those aged 18 to 29 - now own a smartphone. Worldwide, smartphone penetration has reached 44% and is expected to reach 59% by 2022.
On average, we each spend over four hours a day, every day, on our smartphones, mainly on multipurpose apps. In 2017 smartphone users spent 73.8 hours every month on apps.
One in three travelers now books on a mobile device whilst 80% of travel managers have made mobile strategies a top priority in increasing adoption and in-policy compliance . Meanwhile 70% of all OTA bookings are predicted to be made through mobile by 2020.
It’s pretty clear that mobile isn’t going away and that capabilities such as booking, itinerary management, payment and data capture are must-have’s for business travelers on the go. In fact, as the millennials give way to Generation Z in the workplace, corporate reliance on mobile technology will increase even further.
Today’s business traveler wants freedom, connectivity, flexibility, simplicity and familiarity. By using smartphone apps the traveler can order a cab, board a plane, locate your hotel and book dinner. Last-minute changes itinerary changes are no longer a major hassle. But as mobile adoption and usage increases, so too does user demand for convenience and self-service.
Suppliers are investing heavily in mobile. For airlines, mobile is the perfect medium through which to engage with travelers from arrival at the airport to their final destination. New Distribution Capability (NDC) is all about airlines being able to pitch, sell and up-sell ancillaries. Airlines are set to benefit from digital engagement to the tune of $1 billion annually for each of the largest four U.S. airlines. The carriers are using mobile to target your travelers, so travel managers need to keep control of the mobile environment.
So what should a mobile travel management strategy look like?
1. Understand the traveler. What do they need at any point in the trip?
2. Make sure the mobile platform is user-friendly and consistent across all devices. 78% of business travelers in the U.S. prefer to manage their journeys themselves through self-service technology. Your app should enable travelers to book, track itineraries, cancel or change their reservations and view options that are policy-compliant.
3. Your mobile experience should combine every aspect of travelers’ itineraries, resource and communication, especially during disruption or unexpected service failure.
4. Give travelers the ability to snapshot receipts on their smartphones and upload automatically to expenses. By linking the mobile traveler experience with expense management from pre-trip to expense reporting can boost policy compliance by up to 44%.
5. Consider virtual payment solutions that provide a unique, on-demand virtual card number for a specific trip, reducing the risk of fraud and removing the need to issue company credit cards.
6. Integrate traveler tracking into your mobile app to make communication quicker and easier. Some systems can even ask travelers to check-in.
7. System reliability is essential for business travelers to access information and interact with suppliers 24x7.
8. The ability to personalize is important. Any message needs to be able to refer to past trip behavior to anticipate travelers’ immediate needs.
We predict that Augmented Reality (AR) and AI applications will shape the next phase of the mobile revolution by mining traveler data to simplify and speed up searching and booking every part of the customer journey.
Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri have re-defined online customer service. So business travelers now expect the same sort of personalized service. To meet millennial travelers’ need for information relevant to their situations, and with millennials three times more receptive to chatbots than older generations, FCM was amongst the first travel brands to launch a chatbot. Sam can research and book flights and hotels, offer driving directions, visa advice, local city and country information as well as local weather and restaurant suggestions.
We’re not saying that chatbots will spell the end for human delivery. A third of people in Europe feel it was important to be able to speak with a real person when planning and booking travel . Some travelers just prefer to pick up the phone.
There’s no denying that mobile is here to stay. This means every travel program needs to enable compliance and add value to the travel journey through mobile. Mobile also offers an opportunity that’s too good to pass up – to increase efficiency around payments and booking, enabling programs to move towards a system of virtual payment. That’s where the real pay-back comes in.