Technology key to solving the travel challenges of 2017

Lisa Akeroyd, Managing Director of Carlson Wagonlit Australia & NZ.

Penned by guest contributor, Lisa Akeroyd, Managing Director of Carlson Wagonlit Australia & NZ.

The corporate travel industry is set to face numerous challenges in 2017 – from increasing geopolitical risk to dealing with changes in travellers’ expectations and behaviour.

But what is poised to be a volatile year, technology will play a key role in helping the industry overcome the challenges that lie ahead, ushering in benefits like an enhanced traveller experience, risk minimisation and greater efficiency.

Travelling the millennial way

Millennial behaviour, now common across generations, is changing the way the corporate travel industry does business and interacts with travellers.

In what was once identifiably millennial behaviour, all generations have gone mobile.

Mobile apps that allow travellers to book and manage trips have had to become more personalised and more efficient – because it’s what’s expected.

Travellers don’t want to use five apps to manage one trip, but one app that truly adds value. If an app fails to add value, it will simply be deleted. This results not only in a poor traveller experience, but also travel policy leakage and resultantly higher costs for the end business.

If companies fail to offer technology and services that address the millennial way of travelling, leakage is an issue that will continue to plague the industry.

Geopolitical risk a recurrent concern

Geopolitical instability isn’t going to abate anytime soon. What is key to managing risk in this context is data.

If a geopolitical incident breaks out, technology today allows a travel manager to see where travellers are and where travellers will be. Alerts and, if required, evacuation instructions can then be sent directly to the traveller by email or via a mobile app.

For companies with hundreds of travellers abroad at any one time, technology and data play a crucial role in managing risk. Having such capabilities is essential for any business with a duty of care.

Cost pressures to weigh in

An uncertain global economic outlook brings with it cost pressures for the industry. But cost pressures can be mitigated by making travel more efficient. The challenging economic environment presents companies with a good opportunity to find new and innovative avenues to drive savings in their travel spend, without having to cut down on the amount they travel.

A key to success in travel planning and budgeting in 2017 will be to drill deeper into the data. The latest data analytics tools help consolidate data from multiple sources, including bookings, expense reports, credit card statements, traveller profiles and

suppliers. Companies should partner with a TMC vendor that’s able to take numerous sources of data and turn it into something predictive and meaningful.

As a travel manager, it will also be important to get travellers on your team. Travel policies can be relaxed in good times but must also be tightened when market conditions require them to be. The latest traveller gamification technologies can be extremely effective in driving compliance and encouraging travellers to make the best possible decision for the company, ultimately reducing corporate travel costs.

Technology the revolutionary

Check your technology toolkit and make sure you have the tools most helpful in managing your program, whether it is for booking, program oversight or productivity.

There’s no doubt that technology will continue to transform the corporate travel industry, helping it navigate challenges while also creating new opportunities.