worldmate
1057 days ago
 

Positives and negatives for travel managers with mobile trip management

Three topics stormed the audience at the ACTE Global 2011 conference which just ended in Paris this week: social, mobile and data.

Not a single session, nor keynote, ended without mentioning these topics several times.

Itinerary management apps, in particular, have been closely scrutinized as they become increasingly popular among business travellers.

Travel managers were spotted comparing TripIt, TripCase and Wipolo to their peers during coffee breaks and workshops, and WorldMate was on demo at a few TMC booths.

For many travel managers, this category of apps seems to be a completely new discovery, but the initial AH-HA moment has quickly been following by questions and concerns.

The positives:

  • Travellers love these apps. And this is a huge plus for travel managers, who are spending their time advocating travel policies and corporate booking tools with often cold reaction from the larger employee base. A new technology that travellers are all happy about? Somewhere, there’s a lesson to learn.
  • Less paper, less outdated information. All trip details synchronized and stored in the phone during travel, even when roaming without a data connection. Less emails and calls back and forth with travel arrangers/travel consultants. Time savings.
  • Opportunity to capture expenses and trip data, even when booked outside of the travel program. This was seen as a big plus for some managers as a way to know where travellers actually are at all times in case of disruption.
  • Opportunity to save money with fare drop alerts was not perceived as strong by large corporates, who have extensive fare tracking tools in place, however it can mean a lot for small businesses.
  • Sharing trip details with colleagues. Useful to find colleagues on the same flights/hotels for networking, sharing taxi fees, and sharing destination tips.

The negatives:

  • Huge concern with sharing confidential information to the outside world. With the ability for users to automatically share their trip details onto Facebook and LinkedIn, competitors, headhunters or investors can gain access to insightful data about company and employees activity. Big red flag for many, with potentially far reaching consequences such as serious breach of employment contract and immediate firing.
  • Concerns with sharing confidential travel program data. It was realized that by forwarding booking confirmation emails to a third party, employees are revealing tons of data: preferred suppliers, TMC information, negotiated rates, maybe even other employees personal names, e-mails and job titles, reasons for travel, customer details and more. One travel manager was particularly shocked to imagine that Concur could theoretically access incredibly precious intelligence about any corporate account whose employees use TripIt.
  • Worries with policy adherence. For some travel managers, the ability to book travel outside of the corporate program through the in-app suggestions (hotels, rental cars) was an issue for program compliance and employee tracking reasons.

Moves from the technology providers

Some travel managers wondered why the corporate booking tool providers are not offering such mobile apps if they are so valuable to travellers.

In fact, they are. But there seems to be a wide gap in user experience and functionality with the leading players.

  • GetThere has mentioned to be working more closely with TripCase (both Sabre-owned).
  • Concur/Cliqbook is obviously working with TripIt, especially stepping into the long tail unmanaged travel market.
  • Amadeus’ e-Travel Management suite has mobile companion apps, integrated with the booking engine and hence including European rail and non-GDS low cost carriers.
  • Busines travel agency Egencia has developed its own itinerary management app, as opposed to use third parties, to ensure complete policy control to travel managers.
  • Many TMCs such as Amex use customized versions of WorldMate, integrating company policies and security requirements.

But what’s next?

It is actually quite difficult to determine, but there is a lot of buzz and excitement about mobile itinerary management.

The big news, for once, is this time it’s about something useful for the traveller, rather than the usual constant battle with reducing expenses.

 
 
Daniele Beccari

About the Writer :: Daniele Beccari

Daniele Beccari is a contributing Node to Tnooz, and head of travel products at Criteo.

As travel technology strategist, he has helped startups and blue-chip corporations define and launch innovative solutions in leisure, corporate, online and mobile sectors. He also served as Vice President, Europe and B2B, at Isango! (now part of TUI), and previously as head of corporate products for the e-travel division of Amadeus.

He started his career at HP, working on what is known today as the Internet of things. An MBA graduate from INSEAD, Daniele can be found somewhere between Paris, London, Turin, San Francisco or Tokyo.

Daniele's views are his alone and not the views of his clients or employers.

 

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  1. Erik Johnson

    Great post, Daniele! Love your last sentence about the itinerary management being focused on providing value to the end traveler. That is certainly the case with our TripCase platform.

    We especially appreciate you highlighting some of the concerns that travel managers currently have with itinerary management apps. We built TripCase with focus on providing value on the end travelers, but also with the understanding of the needs that TMCs and travel managers have in access by their corporate travelers and in mitigating these concerns (including public sharing and policy enforcement for business travel). The fact that they remain concerns among those in attendance does indeed show that there are still a few communications and education hurdles we need to overcome, but that the interest level in the apps and learning more about them is high.

    Erik Johnson
    TripCase Marketing

     
  2. Daniele Beccari

    Thanks Ben, Amy and Matthieu for your additional inputs.

    My take from ACTE is that many travel managers (I mean – the big ones on the top, managing millions in spend) simply did not even know these tools exist and are actually used.

    If managed correctly, there’s an opportunity to deploy corporate itinerary management tools that travelers would actually love to use, with benefit for the corporation.

     
  3. Amy Jackson

    Thanks Daniele. Just to clarify, trips organized with TripIt are 100% private by default, and sharing is entirely optional. The traveler must take specific actions to enable sharing.

    In order to share through social networks, travelers must link their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts with TripIt. Travelers that opt-in to share trips this way are only sharing summaries (dates and destinations).

    Within TripIt, a traveler’s connections can see trip dates and destinations, but the traveler can also change sharing settings to private for each individual trip.

    Also, TripIt is TRUSTe and EU Safe Harbor certified.

    Best,
    Amy

     
  4. Ben Murray

    I feel like you may have short changed the depth and detail available through mobile platforms in regards to corporate travel. I know the ones i have reviewed have been met with above satisfactory ratings. Not to say that there isn’t a great deal of work to be done but many programs are available and useable on the market right now!

     
  5. Heslouin

    Travelers are craving for travel itinerary management on their mobile as long as this is simple and open to multiple booking types and channels. Now in corporate world the issues raised by TMs about security and protection of travel data are key. Are they ready to pay for it (premium pack) and compensate potential revenue losses to itinerary management solution providers? Or should TMCs pay for it? The solution seems to be there.
    I would like also to add that sharing travel plans is not always an issue, it might be also a business opportunity and a big time savings. “Sharing” rules should be adapted to company profile or job profile just as an individual needs to set his owns. This question is a global question now that social networks are commonly used in the corporate space. On Wipolo travelers always choose what they want to share and what they want to keep private. This is essential.

    Matthieu

     
  6. Daniele Beccari

    Some additional input from KDS here: http://twitter.com/#!/yweisselberger
    Thanks Yves.

     
 
 

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