Mobile technology has undergone several disruptions since its usage became widespread, quickly rendering what was once ground-breaking as common-place today.
Most do not realise the breakneck pace at which mobile technology is changing until they contemplate how it has transformed the way we work, play and live. For instance, being able to shoot and watch videos on the go, which can be easily taken for granted today, is in fact a remarkable achievement, given mobile data was only introduced less than two decades ago.
The extensive reach of mobile technology in all aspects of our lives has blurred the distinction between work and play, allowing employees to work beyond the physical workplace as well as to better integrate their personal life with their work life. A survey by Global Business Travel Association (GBTA)  has shown that business travellers are increasingly seeking greater control of their own travel with the aid of mobile technology. Ranging from wearables to mobile wallets, business travellers are beginning to embrace the flexibility and choice afforded by mobile technology.
Given the plethora of options available in the market place, business travellers may not fully realise how they can best leverage on this technology to better manage their business travel needs. As such, it’s worth brushing up on the latest trends in order to elevate the overall business travel experience.
Decision making executives rely on the most updated information on their fingertips in order to make decisions as accurately as possible. This does not change when they travel for work. Travel-centric apps that are able to aggregate vital information such as security alerts, weather, currency rates and booking details gives business travellers the benefit of having information aggregated on one platform. This will enable business travellers to be more productive as they are able to react immediately to any unforeseen circumstances.
Staying up-to-date also contributes to the employers’ duty of care to their employees as it plays a part in ensuring their safety. Notably, travel-centric apps allow employers to monitor their employees’ location and send push notifications in an emergency or by allowing travellers to check-in with their company upon arrival at a destination.
Chatting up business travel
Looking ahead, the mobile experience is set to get more intimate with the introduction of chatbots, or computer programs designed to simulate conversation and address queries instantly. Similar to apps, chatbots are able to assist with all aspects of travel – itineraries, gate changes, driving directions, weather, restaurant recommendations and reservations.
However, chatbots go a step further as they pick up on cues, such as travel patterns and preferences and update travellers accordingly. For example, if it is a traveller’s first time in a particular city, he will receive more information and recommendations than if it was a standing monthly trip. Chatbots are also flexible enough to communicate on common messaging platforms, including Facebook messenger or SMS.
Employers can also stand to gain from this feature by customising the rules and settings, to be in line with a company’s travel guidelines. An instance would be the chatbot sending a reminder to use taxis over other transportation options if the company’s travel policy so dictates.
This is line with the flexibility and intuitiveness that business travellers seek when considering how travel management can add value to their travel experience. Ultimately, business travellers should adopt a holistic travel management solution which ensures there is always the expertise on hand, be it through chatbots or through the human touch.
Lighten your e-wallet
Another common grouse faced by business travellers is keeping track of expenses made during a work trip. In the push for greater flexibility in travel arrangements, business travellers may desire to take over the reins of their corporate spending. However, in doing so, business travellers are then expected to take on the arduous task of tracking all expenses. For this, employers can overcome the issue by embracing mobile expense filing. The process can be as simple as allowing business travellers to snap a photo of their receipt and instantly filing it online as a means of recording their expenses.
Businesses can also consider the use of mobile wallets in a corporate setting. Mobile wallets allow credit or debit card information to be stored digitally on mobile devices, giving rise to the possibility of allowing a business traveller to pay for expenses with a corporate card that has been stored digitally in a company-issued mobile phone. This eliminates the hassle of having to deal with foreign currency while enforcing the company’s security policy.
Wearing your heart on your wrist
While mobile technology may not feature prominently in the work lives of some consumers, most are definitely used to a certain degree of mobile technology in their personal lives. As such, they expect no less but to effortlessly transit from their personal lives to work and vice-versa. For instance, the smart watch allows employees to receive emails instantly while continuing to track vital health statistics such as sleep and activity levels.
The smart watch is an example of wearable technology or wearables, which are typically synchronised to other mobile devices, giving you access to your emails at any time and any place. A smart watch can also help the frequent-flying business traveller shorten travel times as he pulls his boarding pass information from the watch instead of fumbling for the hard copy.
Simply put, wearables are designed to make you as mobile as possible.
Mobile is not a device, it’s a mind set
It is without a doubt that many have jumped onto the mobile bandwagon, relishing the convenience of a mobile-first experience. However, what is lacking is an accompanying shift to a mobile-first mind set by employers.
This calls for creating comprehensive mobile travel policies that truly place the business traveller and mobile technology front and centre, instead of creating rules on a case-by-case basis. In doing so, companies can continue to remain secure while elevating the business travel experience for their employees.