Representatives from suppliers leading the way in the development of travel technology have said tools such as apps can only help travel managers when it comes to driving compliance in their programme.
Speaking during a panel session moderated by Kevin May, editor in chief of PhocusWire, at the Business Travel Show in London, Neal Sunners, senior vice president of innovation at Avis Budget Group, commented: “The more seamless suppliers can make a journey using technology, the more travellers will want to comply with their corporate policy. Suppliers have a real opportunity to innovate within this space by listening to what travellers want.”
The topic of ‘consumerisation’ in the corporate travel space came up multiple times during the discussion, with Andrew Dyer, vice president of global supply at Egencia, saying the TMC has the ability to leverage its position as the business travel arm of Expedia to adapt consumer technology trends for the business travel industry.
However, Dyer added that traveller safety still has to be at the heart of all innovation within the industry. “The ultimate goal of any corporate travel programme is to keep travellers safe, so suppliers have to keep that in mind when developing new technology. There’s value for travel managers in utilising technology to understand what your travellers are doing and when. As tech providers, it’s our job to put all of that information in one place to help travel managers be as efficient as possible.”
Dyer also believes it’s not an impossible task for suppliers to work together to create a seamless experience between their collective apps to share data that will help travel managers.
Even with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the horizon, Max Waldmann, CEO of hotel solutions mobile app Conichi, believes there is still room for suppliers to collaborate. “GDPR will fundamentally change the way we process data, but it opens up opportunities for companies to really think about the way they deal with traveller data and what they do with it.”
Niklas Andreen, senior vice president and managing director of hospitality and digital at Travelport, agreed, adding: “Travellers want to know that their data is being used safely and wisely. So while suppliers obviously won’t break data protection laws, it will make us all more conscious of how we use the data we collect.”
Waldmann summed up the general message of the session by saying : “Everyone has a different definition of personalisation, whether it’s a high-touch experience with lots of human interaction or a very low-touch environment where travellers can do everything on their own using their devices. But artificial intelligence has huge potential in creating more personalised experiences because it learns about a traveller’s behaviour as it collects data.”