According to a recent panel debate moderated by ‘Buying Business Travel’ editor Paul Revel: ‘Travel buyers cannot ignore the benefits mobile technology provides and should allow travellers to download travel apps within a managed policy’. Both suppliers and buyers said that mobile should be embraced but highlighted the fact that some level of control is needed.
‘Travel applications will reach travellers whether or not their travel company supports those apps’, said Joakim Everstin, customer innovations manager at Sabre Travel Network. A clearly defined mobile policy should be in place that allows the use of various apps, which will not only control costs but also help make travellers' experience easier. Technology is a friend to the travel industry, but like every technology it is important that its usage is managed, he said.
Some travel buyers believe that mobile is neither helping nor harming the industry. Good or bad, it is a technology that is here to stay, so it is essential to ensure that it is managed properly and this could be the biggest challenge, according to Torsten Kriedt, Vice President of planning and intelligence for BCD Travel. The threat is that if travellers do not get what they need they will turn their attention to other companies, so a managed mobile project is necessary, he added.
Isabel Montesdeoca, managing director at Concur UK, pointed out that travellers are doing a lot of the job and they are doing it effectively. Providing travellers with booking policies and tools will allow them to contribute to the communication. The travel company can look at where they are going and the most effective way to travel, and perhaps give a price or budget to beat rather than go to specific vendors, she said.
And it is not always about apps when communicating with travellers. SMS remains a very good way to provide travellers with information during their holiday, according to Eija Kurttila, global travel manager for mobile firm TeliaSonera. For instance, there are some hotels that operate taxi pooling. A company sends SMS messages to travellers staying at a particular hotel and the next day it can fill a shuttle bus with those interested in the trip, Kurttila says. People like receiving SMS messages because they act as a reminder for most of them. Still, it is important to keep in mind that if you bother them with too much information people will often be pushed away.
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