Four Travel Technology Trends on the Horizon

Travel Technology Trends

By far one of my favorite topics to learn about at industry events is technology. It is amazing to hear about developments in this area – one that is constantly changing and evolving with something new to learn about each time I attend an education session. Although this constant state of change can be hard to keep up with, here are a few trends to keep tabs on:

  1. Wearables
    Wearables are just getting started. From 2014 to 2015, the wearables market grew from 35.5 million shipments in 2014 to 85.0 million in 2015, a year-over-year growth of 139.4%. Recent predictions show shipments increasing to 560 million by 2021. Technological developments in this area are also expected to increase. Technology in development, such as Cicret and Vue, could substantially change how we interact with our devices. How will this translate to the corporate travel space? Capabilities are already available through certain apps for Apple Watch, such as gate change notifications, delayed or cancelled flight updates, and hotel reservation reminders, among others. Look for an expansion of these services as the variety of devices available to travelers continues to expand.

  2. AaA (App as Assistant)
    The AaA, or “App as Assistant” trend will continue to increase as Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities improve. Need suggestions for a weekend trip with friends? Copy in to your group email to get suggestions on flights, hotels, etc. sent to everyone in the group from Hipmunk’s AI travel planning assistant. Called Hello Hipmunk, it is easy to see how this scenario could translate from a group of friends to a group traveling to a client or a company meeting. Hello Hipmunk also integrates with Facebook Messenger and Slack so travelers never need to leave the comfort of familiar apps. As common with developments in this area, the question becomes how to drive compliance while allowing travelers to use tools they love. Perhaps Concur’s recent acquisition of Hipmunk will allow this type of technology to make the jump to the corporate travel space.

  3. Biometric Security
    Retina and full handprint scanners sound like the stuff of James Bond films, but the technology allowing for biometric identification is rapidly becoming more affordable, which should lead to more widespread use. Today, Touch ID on the iPhone (used to verify mobile payment through Apple Pay) and Global Entry handprint scan kiosks are already available for everyday use. Look out for the broader adoption of these features to benefit travelers with more secure identification methods.

  4. On-Demand Services
    In the on-demand services world, Uber and Lyft have moved on from their disruptive days of revolutionizing the ground transportation industry to established players. Expect the trend to continue along the vein of “Uber for X” with companies such as DUFL (luggage), AirGrub (airport food), GrubHub/Seamless (food delivery) and Jettly (aviation). As more of these services become available and used for travelers’ leisure needs, expect demand and questions concerning them to increase. A review of travel policy in light of these new suppliers may be beneficial to effectively handle inquiries.

    Overall, the technology space and its effect on our everyday lives, as well as the corporate travel field, promises to continue to be an exciting one. No doubt more advancements will be revealed as we enter 2017 – just in time for more education sessions on developments in this exciting and dynamic field.

Oh Baby, Baby it’s a Mobile World

Mobile World

Back when Cat Stevens’ “Wild World” first hit the airwaves, Richard Nixon was president of the United States, the Ford Pinto had just been introduced to the market, and the first New York City marathoners were lining up for the starting gun. And just over one year prior, in July 1969, man landed on the moon using computing technology 120 million times less powerful than the mobile devices we hold in our hand today. Needless to say, times have changed.

The considerations of travel managers have changed substantially over this period as well. In the 1990s, the Internet and its impact on the industry was undeniable, fundamentally changing the travel booking process. Today, mobile technology is being adopted eight times faster than web adoption was in the 1990s and early 2000s. For the savvy travel manager, this is certainly not fresh news. What developments are in store for this sector, however, and how can they successfully be incorporated into your travel program?

Mobile Use Surpasses Internet
According to the International Telecommunication Union’s 2016 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) report, the number of mobile broadband subscriptions has surpassed the number of households with Internet globally. Although the rate of mobile growth has slowed in the recent past, there is now an estimated 95% of the global population (around seven billion people) living in an area covered by a basic 2G mobile-cellular network. The prevalence of mobile and its importance to all industries, including travel, is therefore on pace to increase substantially.

Travel Industry Impact
Mobile technology research from CWT demonstrates that travel managers are well aware of this phenomenon, with mobile technology identified as the highest-impact trend for travel managers. Survey results showed that 92% of travel managers expect mobile technology to make an impact, and 72% consider this impact to be high.

Actions to Take
All of this is well and good, but what should travel managers do to take stay on top of, and take advantage, of this trend?

  1. Ensure Seamless Multichannel Access for Travelers
    Confirm that your website or mobile app is compatible with multiple devices, as this will continue to be the norm in the future, especially as Millennial business travelers become the majority in the next five to ten years.

  2. Solicit Feedback and Make Any Necessary Changes
    The importance of soliciting traveler feedback has been well documented, and mobile is certainly no exception. Survey your travelers regularly to ensure your mobile presence, whether an app or an optimized website, is user-friendly and address any issues with your travel management company or online booking tool.

  3. Communicate New Features and Developments
    Make sure travelers are aware of any new features or developments for mobile apps or optimized websites by communicating the changes and clearly outlining the benefits.

In looking to the future, it’s an increasingly mobile world we are going to find ourselves in. By taking some proactive steps to capitalize on this trend on pace to substantially increase worldwide, travel managers can set their program up for success in 2017 and beyond.