Jeroen Hurkmans: Mobilising your travel programme

04 November 2015
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Jeroen HurkmansVice President EMEA/ APACAdvito
Supplier

Centralising the travel programme into one app brings benefits to the travel manager and traveller

Travellers are relying on their mobile devices more on the road to make their trips as easy as possible. Phones, tablets and laptops are a necessity for many people and more companies are letting their travellers use various mobile applications (apps) and digital tools.

This reliance on mobile doesn’t just benefit your travellers, though. With the right mobile strategy you can minimise traveller risk, steer traveller behaviour and gather traveller feedback. A central mobile app lets you manage your travellers in the pre-trip stage, during a business trip and once the traveller is home as well.

They get a smoother experience and you ensure safety, savings and open communication.

Why a central mobile app?

Travellers will be using apps whether you offer one or not. They’ll use them to book hotels, to rent cars, to navigate around their destinations, to find restaurants and more. You could try to manage which apps your travellers use, and how, but it won’t be very successful. Travellers already have their favourites and banning those is unrealistic.

Instead, offer an endorsed app—a one-stop shop. Leading travel management companies (TMCs) now provide these apps, which your travellers can easily download from app stores for free. If your travellers can find all the information and resources they need in one app (which you provide and control), they are far more likely to stay within your travel programme.

The TMC app becomes the centre of their mobile travel world and you reap the benefits.

Creating indispensable content

Your mobile app will only be successful if your travellers actually use it. If the app doesn’t give travellers what they need, they’ll look to other apps instead. So make sure you understand the features travellers want. There are three primary components you’ll want to include:

Itinerary management


At the most basic level, travellers need to know where they’re going and how to get there, including flight, rail, car rental and hotel details. But don’t stop there. Send them updates about unexpected changes, such as flight delays. Provide information about their destination, including maps, weather forecasts and nearby restaurants. And let them share their itineraries easily—and securely—with friends, family and colleagues.

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apps credit seewhatmitchsee-720 An ideal scenario would see your app sit among the favourites. © seewhatmitchsee/iStock

Disruption services


No matter how much one prepares for a trip, there will likely be complications at some point. Keep your travellers in the loop when you can. Use the central mobile app to warn them about traffic that could delay their arrival at the airport or flight delays and cancellations, and information about rebooking if needed. Travellers will appreciate how the central mobile app minimises the negative effects of travel disruptions.

Booking


Most TMC apps offer self-booking features for hotels and car rentals. This helps ensure your travellers take advantage of the rates you’ve negotiated with vendors, which saves you money. However, mobile phones are not well suited to flight bookings yet, so that feature tends to not be available.

Benefits to your travel programme

Any app you roll out needs to have a focus on the traveller experience, but the benefits of an endorsed mobile app extend beyond your travellers. What’s in it for you and your travel programme?

Security


Security is your number one concern when your travellers are on the road and a central mobile app lets you monitor security and intervene better than ever before. You can provide security briefings as part of the itinerary, making sure your travellers are prepared should any issues arise. If there is an emergency, you can send security alerts directly to your travellers’ phones. Not only that, but the app can give travellers a panic button to hit if in danger.

A mobile app gives you immediate and constant connection with travellers, which is crucial in emergencies. Your travellers will have peace of mind and you’ll have a powerful tool to help keep them safe.

User feedback


Traveller feedback is invaluable to monitoring your travel programme. With the mobile app, you can collect their thoughts in one place that’s convenient for them to use. Create a hotel review and rating tool, so travellers can share their opinions on different properties. Let travellers review restaurants in your prime destinations, so that other travellers can use to make better decisions. Most importantly, let travellers communicate directly with you through the app. They will be more likely to give you feedback if they can send it immediately when the trip is still fresh in their minds.

This direct feedback can provide useful advice for improving your programme and dealing with problems travellers are encountering. Taking action based on what travellers are saying improves satisfaction with the programme—which also means improved satisfaction with you.

Tracking programme performance


Data is a critical component of any travel programme. A mobile app gives you a wealth of information to use when evaluating your programme and making decisions about its future. You can ask specific questions to see how your app is affecting traveller behaviour, spend and satisfaction. For example:

  • Are travellers rejecting unnecessary car rental insurance after in-app messages warning against this trap?
  • Are travellers switching from taxi to rail after notifications about faster connections into the city centre?
  • Are travellers responding to security alerts?
  • Which hotel properties have the best traveller ratings and how can you use that information in future negotiations?

Keep an eye on traveller behaviour and how it corresponds to your mobile app. Regularly evaluate what’s working and where you can improve app functionality and traveller app usage. And don’t forget to update the app’s content, keeping the messaging fresh and the services relevant.

A winning mobile strategy

Mobile apps offer convenience above all. Travellers are used to having information available with one touch, so make sure they have it. Investing in an endorsed mobile app makes travel easier, safer and cheaper, all of which benefit you and your travel programme. Thanks to the highly configurable apps most TMCs are now providing, you can create exactly the mobile app you need without having to reinvent the wheel.

Your travellers already use apps on the road. Give them a one-stop shop and they’ll use yours.

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