Thursday, 11 February 2016

GUEST BLOG: Managing travel in a multi-channel world - or how to herd cats in the modern age

I’ve never actually herded cats, but I hear it’s a difficult, if not impossible task. Doing business and getting things accomplished can feel more and more like herding cats the more our channels of communication multiply and diverge. It used to be that you had one, or maybe two, ways of contacting someone, your travel agency for example - by telephone, or fax. Today, only a very few people even know where the company fax machine is located, if there indeed is one. 

Christophe Peymirat

The same goes for the web. There used to be only one way to access the Internet, but today the sound of a dial-up modem is commonly used to illustrate outdated, slow technology from another generation. Smartphones, tablets, watches and soon even your refrigerator will be connected. Imagine these as a herd of cats, and now imagine that you depend on these cats for your company’s travel management.

Recently, the Expedia®/Egencia® Mobile Index showed once again how attached travellers are to mobile devices. Travellers now consider it to be the single most indispensable item they carry with them when they travel, ahead of their toothbrush, deodorant and driver’s license. So assimilated has the device become that even the ever-polite, etiquette-conscious British are second only to Australia in mobile etiquette tolerance - not bothered by most of the mobile activities other nations find offensive. It’s only natural that we will want to book more and more travel on mobile. A recent study by Criteo, a leading digital marketing firm, shows that the share of mobile bookings almost doubled between Q2 2014 and Q2 2015, increasing from 12 to 23 percent worldwide.[i]

But mobile addiction is not new. What’s becoming evident now is that screens are multiplying and access to the Internet may no longer even require a screen. With the multiplication of touch-points comes the challenge of keeping it all together in one place. We expect that an email we read and answer on our smartphone will automatically sync with our desktop mail server. I recently spent three weeks outside of the office, and conducted all of my business using only my smartphone. This would have been unthinkable just five years ago. So should it go for booking travel. When a booking is made online, we expect to find that booking on our mobile and vice versa. If I shop for a hotel on my iPad while I’m on the sofa over the weekend – I want to be able to book it right away and not have to wait until Monday to do it at the office. Convenience is something we all crave and if travellers get it through your travel program, it will make following the rules that much easier.

In addition to multiple screens, we also use a multitude of apps. We’ve found that up to 30 percent of business travellers across Europe use multiple apps to manage their business travel. What are they using them for? If you take a look at the App Annie Index, the top downloaded travel apps in the US are for ground transportation, beating out airlines, TripAdvisor and even the ubiquitous Expedia app. So it stands to reason that a good way of making sure travellers are finding what they need and booking what they should is to put everything in a single app, and connect that app to your travel program.

If you compare our mobile behaviour to a herd of cats, what would your weapon of choice be to get everyone moving in the same direction?  One big juicy piece of tuna would surely do the trick - especially one that is proven to be tasty.  For travellers, having an experience where we can do everything we need to on whatever device we choose, and in one single app is akin to this big piece of tuna.  If the traveller’s experience is fast, easy and effective, then keeping it all in one place becomes much easier than herding cats.

Christophe Peymirat is Senior Vice President of Egencia EMEA. Based in Paris at the Egencia European Headquarters, he will be speaking on the main stage of the Business Travel Show on Day 1 from 11:30 – 12:30. Come hear his thoughts on the pace of mobile in the business travel industry. Find out more about Egencia at BTS stand B435




[i] Criteo, Travel Flash Report: Booking On Mobile Goes Mainstream - September 2015

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