Mobile technology has revolutionized the way business travelers book and manage work-related trips. Mobile devices have made it convenient for travelers to check flight statuses, adjust schedules, generate online boarding passes, book hotels and arrange for rental cars on the fly. With over 500 free travel-related apps available on the Google Play Store, what is convenient for travelers can cause chaos for travel managers – unless mobile apps are addressed in your corporate travel policy.
New research from the Global Business Travel Association, states that some of the least popular activities for travelers include managing expenses and itineraries. In response, travel managers must create tougher travel policies to ensure travel and expense (T&E) budgets stay in line and remain compliant.
Most companies don’t require or recommend travel apps. Less than one-fifth of U.S. companies say their organization has specific apps they require business travelers to use. However, with more and more road warriors relying on mobile devices, travel managers must address how mobile technology will shape the business travel experience. Below are some important considerations for travel managers to be aware of, regarding how mobile technology will fit in with their corporate travel policy.
Examine Your T&E Policy
With the constant development of new mobile apps, corporate travel managers must examine their T&E policies regularly. Even recent policies made in the last year can already be outdated.
Put Controls in Place
Saying, “no unauthorized mobile apps allowed” without being specific simply will not work. Decide if you will allow travelers to use mobile apps or not. If you do, which ones are company-sanctioned? Do you have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy or must travelers use company devices during business travel? Clear travel guidelines must be communicated and controls established for travelers to stay in compliance.
Using mobile apps to save on travel time and offer convenience is great, but value can have a different meaning to different shareholders. A travel manager may value easy access to travel documents, a reliable way to reach travelers during an emergency, automated invoicing or simplification of the receipt process over saving time. Consider the usage, purpose and importance of mobile apps for all traveler types when determining which (if any) apps your business will support.
Integrate with In-house Applications
Data related to booked travel can be pushed directly to an itinerary management system to ease the T&E management process. Mobile apps, like TripIt and TripCase, enable trip sharing and also hold vital trip data such as flight updates, itinerary changes, flight alerts, reservation numbers, driving directions, TMC contact information.
The mobile app you choose should align with your booking tool. For example, TripIt is a Concur product and GetThere integrates with TripCase. Concur’s mobile app allows you to submit your expense reports by taking pictures of receipts, book your travel, select trip components and connect to your TMC. Make sure any mobile app integrates with corporate cards, travel cards and personal cards.
Manage Your Trip Itinerary
For itinerary management, mobile apps like TripIt Pro and TripCase Corporate (the paid corporate versions of the itinerary tools) can offer real-time alerts for delays and gate changes, access to multiple flights with open seats in cases of cancellations, notification when a preferred seat becomes available and more.
Survey Your Travelers
Talk with your road warriors about their mobile technology needs and ask your TMC about their mobile capabilities for booking and itinerary management before allowing travelers to invest in and store personal or company information on mobile apps.
Talk To Your TMC
Working with a TMC gives you the benefit of utilizing these technologies through a contract with an online booking tool provider like Concur and GetThere. Your TMC will know how to fully leverage the mobile tools your organization chooses and will, in addition, provide a level of training and support to improve adoption and compliance.
Casual observation of travelers in any airport in the world shows how important mobile technology has become to travelers. Whether it is a smartphone, tablet or wearable technology, travelers are turning to their devices and mobile apps for easy, on-the-go access to trip information.
Today’s mobile tools that enhance the productivity and experience of traveling employees is great but, to be truly beneficial to all travel program stakeholders, these apps must be company-sanctioned. Otherwise, what might be a timesaving convenience to a traveler can cause compliance, integration and productivity issues for travel managers.
For further insight regarding mobile technology and mobile apps, read our Technology Guide for Travel Programs, where we break down popular areas of technology and relate it to your business travel needs.