Last week’s eighth Ofcom Communications Market Report revealed that 27 per cent of all adults now own a smart phone. 59 per cent of these were bought in the last year. Oh, and we’re addicted to them. In fact, 37 per cent of adult smart phone owners have admitted as much.
In the business travel market, smart phones are beyond useful. TMCs use them to deliver information to travellers (itineraries, for example) as well as pulling data back (travellers can use phones to scan in expense receipts).
However, the smart phone epidemic has also seen an increasing number of business travellers use apps as though they were leisure travellers (which they’re not). And it’s this use of apps ‘out of policy’ that’s now a major cause for concern among corporate travel managers who are being warned that, unless they take back control, their policies are under threat of being compromised.
My belief is that travel managers shouldn’t ‘ban’ travellers from using smart phones. Instead, they should find technology solutions with similar (or better) mobile applications attached that will keep travellers happy AND compliant. It’s essential that, when choosing these applications, managers opt for a platform-inclusive solution that’s also content rich, stable and fit for purpose.
Travel managers also need to embrace mobile communications as a tool to manage policy compliance in the same way they have harnessed self booking tools, pre-trip authorisation. Reports have indicated that use of mobile strategies can reduce the number of calls made to TMCs, in some cases by as much as 40 per cent, so making a considerable saving for organisations.
Technology has always been a key issue within the business travel industry and a focus for the travel shows at Centaur Travel Group. For 2012, we’re going one step further and launching a Technology Zone at our London and Dusseldorf shows. The zone is being introduced as a platform for technology providers who appeal to both travel and technology buyers, and will be a fantastic place for buyers to discover suppliers with smart phone applications, receive hands on demos, attend education sessions and network with new contacts. The smart money, in my opinion, is on the smart phone.
Posted by David Chapple, event director, Centaur Travel Group.