Mobile is vital to 'always on' business travellers

Mobile is changing the face of business travel, according to joint research from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Foundation and American Express.

Technology such as Wi-Fi, travel apps and digital wallets are transforming the industry and Wi-Fi in particular has become "indispensable" to the business traveller.

The likes of mobile devices and applications play a more important role than ever as employees travelling for business demand constant connectivity, the research found.

Wi-Fi is essential to travellers across the board: 80% of respondents in the UK said that Wi-Fi is "vital to their work productivity".

In Mexico, as many as 90% of respondents said the same; while the proportion was 87% in Brazil; 83% in Canada; 81% in the United States; in Australia, 75%; in Germany 70%; and 52% in Japan.

The level of satisfaction in business travel varied widely by country. For instance, business travellers from Mexico are the most satisfied. Those in the UK, US and Australia scored just above average on overall business travel sentiment, while Germany, Brazil and Canada scored just below average.

However, business travellers from Japan were found to be the least happy. They indicated that they were the least satisfied across all index components, except for social media experience.

The index included Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the UK and the US. A total of 3,851 business travellers were surveyed, being primarily resident in one of these eight countries, employed part- or full-time, and having made four or more business trips in the prior 12 months.

Components of the index included travellers' overall experience, travel safety, social media experience (travellers' attitudes to using social media while on business trips, such as finding or posting reviews of travel suppliers), and the impact of technology on the business travel experience.

In terms of technology, the report found that the majority of travellers in all countries (except for Japan and Germany) believe access to technology while travelling allows them to keep up with their other work demands (about 75% or more on average).

Most travellers said that mobile applications (provided by travel suppliers, event organisers or travel destinations, for example) have enhanced their overall business travel experience. This applies particularly those in Australia (57%), the US (55%), UK (similarly, 55%) and Canada (53%), who "agree" or "strongly agree".

There was also high interest in the likes of location technology such as GPS navigational tools for locating nearby services like stores, restaurants and service providers.

Joseph Bates, vice president of the GBTA Foundation, commented: "A massive technological transformation is changing the face of business travel.

"At the heart of this radical disruption is Wi-Fi, which has become the indispensable technology for travellers. Wi-Fi and mobile technologies allow travellers to stay connected whether in their hotel rooms, at the airport, or at 30,000 feet. This transformation will only accelerate, and business travellers will demand always-on connectivity and mobile applications that allow them to stay in touch 24/7."