Technology continues to shape business travel sector
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
As many organizations and executives look to the economic prospects of the new year, the ways in which business travelers interact with one another while on the road are constantly changing. With 2013 fast approaching, technology will play a vital role in the growth and development of the business travel sector.
A primary concern of many executives is maximizing their time while traveling and remaining productive. This was evidenced most recently in Business Travel News' "The Frequent Traveler" report, which revealed that technology already plays a significant role in how executives do business on the road.
More than half of professionals polled for the report indicated they used technology to check the status of flights, and many also said they used mobile devices to book their accommodations and reservations. This represents a substantial growth market for companies offering serviced apartments and corporate suites, as many business travelers now expect to be able to make reservations online while traveling.
Itinerary management services is another growth area for providers in the hospitality and business travel sectors. More than one-third of travelers in all age brackets except 45-54 used mobile technology to take advantage of these services, and this is only expected to grow as the market develops and service providers begin offering additional booking and management tools for mobile professionals.
Slower on the uptake
While many business travelers and organizations look to technology as the future of corporate travel, small businesses and entrepreneurs may be less likely to adopt new ways of doing business on the road.
According to the Financial Post, many small business owners are failing to take advantage of modern technology. Individuals working for larger companies were found to use many more travel-related applications than their counterparts at smaller organizations. In addition, small business owners are more likely to rely on laptop computers while traveling as opposed to smartphones or tablets.
Scott Newell, vice president of the Canadian market for Concur, a Redmond, Washington-based provider of integrated travel and expense solutions, told the news source that small business owners have to rely on their own initiative when it comes to implementing new technology, unlike their corporate counterparts. Additionally, many entrepreneurs find it difficult to invest the time to learn how to use new software and technology.
"There are thousands of apps you can load onto your smart device to make day-to-day life easier and travel easier," Newell told the news source. "But it’s impossible to navigate them all and remember which one is which. So to some extent, the consolidation of those - or at least having one point of entry - is crucial in terms of usability."
Saving money and time
The benefits of a more technological approach to business travel are obvious for many executives. While using smartphone apps and mobile devices can help corporate travelers remain productive on the road, they can also save companies money.
USA Today reports that using technology for business travel purposes can yield significant savings. Rhonda Abrams, a frequent business traveler and contributor to the news source, said that shopping around for reduced fares online can lead to substantial discounts. In addition, there are several smartphone apps available that enable business travelers to stay connected while overseas free of charge, including VoIP video conferencing software programs such as Skype.
While corporate suites at hotel chains remain popular with some executives, corporate accommodations and serviced apartments could be another area in which business travelers can save money. Many chain hotels charge substantial fees for internet access, which in today's digital age, is a necessity for many executives.