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Navigating the silicon jungle

 

If driverless cars, 3D printing and drones that can climb walls are anything to go on, the impact of disruptive technology in 2016 and beyond is set to be seismic.

 

For the business travel sector, emerging technologies are packed with possibilities: mobile apps, wearable devices, virtual card payments, and personalisation are all contributing to a truly on-the-go experience. And overarching this tech jungle is the ability to capture and crunch data in real time.

 

“Technology gives us the potential to make a managed travel programme more compelling than it has ever been,” points out Rob Haynes, programme management director for Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT).“It can provide more control, a safer environment and allow [travel managers] to gain efficiency and make cost savings in a way that is visible.”

 

In CWT’s latest annual survey of travel managers’ priorities, almost two thirds (63 per cent) report that mobile services and wearable devices will impact their travel programme in the year ahead, while 54 per cent believe data and personalisation will make their mark*.

 

More effective data capture and analysis, driven by tech advances and heavy investment in tools such as CWT’s recently launched CWT AnalytIQs product means travel managers now have the power to gain more visibility over their spend and traveller needs through insights into traditional travel agency data, as well as expenses, supplier and traveller profiles, and even off-channel bookings.

 

“This is driven by demand for more flexible and intuitive reporting,” reveals Rob.

 

Indeed, the Business Travel Show 2016 forecast highlighted that data and mobile apps are among the greatest issues facing travel buyers** as they grapple with balancing mandated policy and flexibility for the traveller.

 

 


“In the past, savings generally drove the way a travel policy was written,”  says Caroline Allen, regional director for EMEA, Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE).

“Now the traveller is at the heart of the policy, and service improvements lead to savings. That trend is coming from technological development.”

For Rob, embracing the change is critical, as use of mobile devices is only set to increase with new rules that will completely scrap extra roaming charges within Europe by mid-2017.

Meanwhile, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has found that 52 per cent of business travellers agree mobile apps enhance their trip experience***.


CWT has responded with mobile app CWT To Go, which allows travellers to make bookings with preferred suppliers and manage key travel information while on the road.

The ability to directly message travellers about sticking to vetted accommodation can also help improve security.

“Everything is evolving towards more traveller engagement as there’s a desire to be able to book travel in the same way as in your personal life,” explains Rob. “The consumer and corporate space is being blended. “Even [IATA’s airline distribution technology standard] NDC is aimed at bringing the more leisure-orientated content into the GDS and TMC environment.

“These developments are encouraging clients to revisit their travel policies and look at grey areas to figure out where they can gain control and clarity.”