A large majority – almost 7 in 10 (69 percent) – of travel professionals indicate their travel program does not have a mobile strategy in place, according to new research by the GBTA Foundation in partnership with Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) and the Carlson Family Foundation. However, of the travel programs that have not adopted one, almost two-thirds (64 percent) will do so in the next two years, according to the travel professionals surveyed.
More than half of travel professionals have endorsed a mobile app in the past year, but a strategy means thinking bigger than just apps. It means looking more broadly into how to take the pieces of your travel program and bring them into the mobile environment to drive engagement, compliance and savings.
The study, A Mobile Effect: Setting A Clear Mobile Travel Strategy, consisted of both a short online survey of travel professionals in the United States and in-depth interviews with travel professionals across the United States and Europe. The consensus showed a clear, precise strategy is mostly missing from travel programs, opening the door to challenges as more apps and new technology increasingly make their way into the market.
“Travel programs haven’t really looked at the mobile space as a strategy, more of which app is available or that the program could endorse,” said Dominique Betancourt, data insight manager for Carlson Wagonlit Travel. “A strategy is critical because the mobile space changes at lightning speed, and it’s critical to think of it in strategic pieces like apps, how to communicate, what is acceptable behavior for your organization like checking in to places. Focusing on first how a program would like to leverage mobile and then looking at what could help execute that strategy, will ensure a travel program is set up for success.”
Travel professionals see a number of opportunities when implementing a mobile strategy – most commonly, increased traveler engagement (78 percent) and increased compliance (55 percent). They also cite top challenges as IT security (41 percent), travelers owning their own devices (32 percent) and too many decision makers (21 percent). While they recognize the challenges they face when travelers embrace channels they see as more convenient and book outside of the program, travel professionals also appreciate what they have gained with mobility and understand that traveler preference has shifted to a self-service approach.
The focus of a mobile travel program strategy should be centered on how to make a traveler’s experience so simple in program that there is more value there than outside the program. Looking at the opportunities for savings is a good area that travel professionals can leverage to obtain buy-in and support from leadership to launch a mobile strategy.
Savings objectives from implementing a mobile strategy fall across multiple categories. There could be distribution savings when measuring the distribution costs of booking through mobile versus the corporate online booking tool, program savings to increase compliance such as alerts for best rates and when to book, and also productivity savings when travelers have access to functionalities that save them time and can increase their overall travel experience.
The study identifies best practices for where to start with a mobile travel strategy and next steps enabling travel professionals to better serve their travelers and the management of their programs.
Where to Start?
- Determine what you would like to accomplish if you had an overall mobile travel strategy
- Identify which tools or processes are already in use
- Identify who owns the mobile policy and which departments are involved in decision making
- Review mobile policy to know what is allowed and know what the limitations are
- Begin by conferring with departments in your organization that own/are involved in the mobile policy decision and execution
- Create a suite of recommended apps
- Include clear guidance in your travel policy of mobile app use for travel purposes
- Have a means to provide fairly instant 2-way communication with your travelers
- Measure traveler experience and savings
- Stay current
For more details on how to accomplish this and create a mobile strategy that works for your travel program, download the full study here.
Most organizations already have the technology in place and the willingness from travelers to embrace it. The missing piece is developing a strategy that takes into account the organization’s culture and the traveler’s needs, as well as the organization’s goals. Measuring the success and keeping communication open with travelers and decision makers alike will help travel professionals move forward with their mobile strategy in today’s digital world.
Experts from CWT and the GBTA Foundation will discuss the study’s findings in greater detail on September 8 at 2pm ET. Register today.