Gotta go fast: The next frontier of mobile and business travel

September 7, 20174 Minute Read

Tourism is big business in Canada, to the tune of $78.8 billion in total economic activity. Like every other industry, it’s frantically trying to keep up with the explosion of mobile devices.

With business travellers taking more than 502.8 million trips a year, according to the Global Business Travel Association, business travel technology for mobile is critical. The market is even bigger in Asia, which accounts for more than one-third of the world’s $1 trillion business-travel sector. It’s a lucrative market, and capturing it requires understanding business travellers’ needs. When creating business travel technology, mobile is king.

To keep up with evolving travel preferences and to provide the best possible service to business travellers, companies across the travel sector are exploring ways to reach and engage customers on their smartphones. Let’s take a look at how leading travel enterprises are accommodating road warriors.

Stay

As online hotel booking began to take off, many hotel chains found themselves faced with a problem. Rather than remaining loyal to one hotel brand, business travellers were using online services like Priceline and Expedia to compare prices and easily book rooms—or they went outside the hotel sphere altogether through mobile-friendly services like Airbnb.

To keep their existing guests and attract new ones, hotel companies began to develop mobile business travel technology that not only offered booking, but also other useful services. Take the Hyatt Hotels app for example: It provides room booking, reservation management, and rewards tracking, as well as mobile check-in and check-out. This is ideal for business travellers who are pressed for time and already use their mobile devices to juggle business tasks. They also integrated with Uber, so they’re operating way outside the box at this point.

Hyatt’s not alone in changing the game with mobile benefits. The Ritz-Carlton, true to its reputation as a purveyor of high-class, luxury experiences, includes property-specific features in its app. For example, a guest may receive a special offer for the spa through the app or communicate with the hotel’s concierge. And Starwood’s W Hotels Worldwide app displays useful information like local weather, room service, and special requests.

For these hotel chains, which have ample resources and a large international presence, creating a branded app makes sense, but the same isn’t true for boutique hotels. The chance that a traveller will download a small hotel’s app for one stay is slim. However, a company called Stayful has developed an app that travellers can use to find great deals on boutique hotels and then engage with those hotels throughout the course of their stay. All hotels on the Stayful platform can use its technology to deliver a host of mobile services, like booking, check-in, room service ordering, and contact with the concierge.

Fly

The airline industry faced a similar problem: loyal business customers were defecting and relying on meta-searches to make their booking decisions. Over the past few years, all major airlines have invested in apps that enable mobile booking and provide mobile boarding passes, flight status updates, reservation history, loyalty tracking, and more.

To sweeten the pot for air travelers, some airlines are rolling out Apple Watch compatible apps, Delta among them. Southwest Airlines invested in business travel technology by enabling you to book rental cars, as well as flights, with its app.

However, beyond the apps themselves, the most important thing airlines can do to accommodate business travellers’ needs is provide reliable internet and power for people who are working on-the-go. According to a survey by Routehappy.com, Delta is the most connected airline, offering travellers the best chance of a wireless connection, with American not far behind.

Work

Road warriors don’t just need to get from Point A to Point B and have a reliable, convenient place to rest—they need the ability to perform their best. Businesses looking to capture this market have to provide features that enable travellers to do everything from charge their mobile devices to print on the fly. Take the Ace Hotel in New York, which has made an effort to attract entrepreneurs with large tables, plentiful outlets, free Wi-Fi, and a coffee bar in its lobby. For road warriors who inevitably need to print on-the-go, the HP ePrint app connects your iPhone to an HP printer over the wireless network, and lets you print in locations like retail stores, hotels, and airport lounges.

And then there’s a crop of cool new apps that make it easy for people to book meeting rooms on-demand. Bizly, Breather, and Hotels By Day make searching for and booking quality meeting space as simple as a few taps. In these cases, innovation in business travel technology is coming from upstarts, and the giants are starting to pay attention. Marriott now offers a Meeting Services App, so travellers can find and organize everything they need for a smooth meeting. You can even request room temperature changes in the app.

The world is going mobile, and businesses are rapidly evolving their business travel technology accordingly. Pretty soon, working from the air, a hotel, or a coffee shop will be as easy—and efficient—as sitting in an office.

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