If there is one key thing that has changed in the world of commuting in the last forty years, it is that people are now almost universally engrossed in their smartphones rather than reading a newspaper or a good book.
Research by Deloitte in 2017 showed that a third of people around the world look at their smartphones within five minutes of waking up. In the United States, the average number of times people consult their smartphones each day is 47.
This smartphone addiction means that people are increasingly expecting slick mobile experiences at their fingertips, in all aspects of their lives. The on-demand generation, who have grown up in the 2010s and have been increasingly able to get what they want right now, who don’t want hassle when logging in or buying online, and who want to be able to swipe their way through life, rightly expect to do the same in their work lives, as well as private. The smartphone is driving this behavior – ad research by inmobi found that mobile campaigns are making millennials buy faster.
They expect the same user-friendly experience in business travel too and it is easy to see why.
If you can find a friend using a geolocation app, why shouldn’t traveler tracking be a given for all businesses? If Amazon can suggest content based on your purchasing habits and those of people similar to you, why can’t your online booking platform do the same for flights and hotels? And if the ads you see when online reflect what you previously searched for on Google and on ecommerce sites, why can’t business travel and expense tools be as smart and know your preferences?
The good news is that business travel technology can be as smart and traveler-focused – you just need to know where to look.
Many travel management companies push technology that has its roots in the legacy systems of old – they have a vested interest in keeping the old ways of working in place for as long as they can. This can be due to the difficulty and cost of implementing change in business travel technologies. Yet we see again and again across many sectors, that disruptive companies who start from the standpoint of the user, rather than their own vested interests, are the ones that win out in the long term, as was demonstrated in a recent wide-ranging survey of brands.
A travel buyer who understands the importance of always putting the needs and preferences of an on-demand traveler armed with a smartphone first will be in the best position to work with travel management companies with the same mentality. They can work together to deliver fresh, traveler-centric solutions.
The reason this works is that travelers who do not get the experience they have come to expect will jump outside the preferred channel to find a channel that does work for them, often a direct-to-supplier channel where things like duty of care, control and negotiation prove impossible to manage effectively.
And if the travel buyer cannot provide those things, what need is there for someone to do that job?