Business travel and tech: How the industry is evolving
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Technology has a massive impact on business travel, especially during the pandemic.
Bonnie Smith, general manager of FCM, offers insight on how business travel is slowly evolving through tech.
This is what she said:
It helps to receive and share information
Smith said the most valuable commodity in travel is information, whether it's the latest travel restrictions, quarantine protocols and testing and/or vaccination requirements.
“Online booking tools have evolved to provide all the details you need right up front in the booking process. The latest facts or travel alerts are immediately highlighted for the travel booker, meaning they don’t need to feel overwhelmed by the amount of information out there, or waste time looking for it," she said.
Smith said interactive travel apps have become indispensable.
It improves traveller safety
Smith said companies want to track their travellers while they’re on the road.
"They want to know exactly where their travellers are if they need to bring them back. And they look to their travel management companies to flag any potential risks, alert travellers (and the team back home) to any developments, and actively liaise with local consulates and embassies should the need arise.
"Technology facilitates traveller safety. Think customised dashboards where travel managers can get an immediate snapshot of where their travellers are, including flight times, ETAs, accommodation, itineraries and more. Mobile alerts to inform travellers of any changes or incidents, apps with a 24/7 chat or call-back function so travellers can ask for advice and support any time, any place," she said.
It helps personalise the user experience
The latest online booking tools use AI-enhanced technology, making them intuitive and hyper-personal. Smith said UX is more important than ever.
“I know ‘UX’ has been a buzzword in the industry for a while, but the latest tech is game-changing. Not only does new AI technology add to the user experience by making quick recommendations based on your booking history, but new plug-and-play tech means we can create a universal booking experience no matter where your offices are in the world.
“Whether you’re booking travel from Asia or South Africa, using Concur or Cytric, your entire team can do the same things, access a wide range of travel content and information, and work in the same way. This is vital for multinationals with global travel programmes," she said.
Increase the visibility of spend and reporting
Smith believes that people were strategically thinking about how travel expenses, payments, and reconciliation processes align with company-wide strategy and profitability goals.
"New functionality allows companies to analyse their travel behaviour, spend, bookings and programme compliance quickly and easily. You can now customise dashboards and pull up-to-the-minute reports for cost analysis, budgeting and planning. Clear, concise data is no longer a pipe dream but a reality," she said.