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Travel managers seem to know that they need to get a better handle on mobile use — the question is how travelers will respond to clear-cut recommendations.

Travel managers are likely to give travelers the thumbs up to use an app or two, but a new study shows that very few companies have a comprehensive mobile strategy in place yet.

According to research released Thursday by the Global Business Travel Association, nearly 70 percent of travel managers who responded to survey questions said their travel policies did not include a mobile strategy. But of that group, 45 percent said their companies planned to adopt a strategy in the next two years.

“Mobile technology is change that everyone has seen coming for almost a decade and even though its effects on the corporate travel industry were imminent, the industry has not kept up with the fast adoption of this technology,” the report says. “This has created an environment where travelers have become less and less bought into the value of corporate travel programs, believing they can handle it all on their own.”

The study included an online survey with answers from 231 travel managers in the U.S. and 16 longer interviews with managers from the U.S. and Europe. It was conducted in partnership with Carlson Wagonlit Travel and the Carlson Family Foundation.

The report defines a “mobile strategy” as a plan for applying a travel program to mobile platforms to keep travelers engaged, abiding by policy and saving the company money. Key considerations include making sure supplier apps are used in the right way and  communicating easily with travelers.

“The focus of a mobile travel program strategy should be centered on how to make a traveler’s experience so simple in program that there is more value there than outside the program,” Monica Sanchez, director of the GBTA Foundation, said in a statement.

Already, more than half of the travel managers who responded said they had endorsed a mobile app in the past year. Those typically included expense reporting tools and travel management company apps as well as preferred supplier apps. But TMC apps often don’t allow travelers to book or reschedule reservations, which the report identified as an area that needed improvement.

“Travel programs haven’t really looked at the mobile space as a strategy, more of which app is available or that the program could endorse,” Dominique Betancourt, data insight manager for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, said in a GBTA blog post about the report. “A strategy is critical because the mobile space changes at lightning speed, and it’s critical to think of it in strategic pieces like apps, how to communicate, what is acceptable behavior for your organization like checking in to places.”


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Tags: apps, corporate travel, mobile

Photo credit: Companies are still working to come up with mobile strategies, according to a new study. Some encourage the use of apps for activities such as expense management, as shown in this promotional photo from Concur. Concur

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