Travel and Expense

Business Travel Technology Trends and Apps - Looking to the Future

Ralph Colunga |

It's hard to believe, but the lingering effects of the pandemic aren't the only risks business travelers, and travel managers face today. Geopolitical developments, extreme weather, cybersecurity, flight disruptions, labor shortages, higher costs due to inflation, etc., are all instances that may impact the business traveler's experience. And while ever so grateful that business travel continues to increase, albeit at a modest pace, it's  likely to face its share of challenges over the coming months and into 2023.

How can the travel management community aid in helping to alleviate some of the burdens of business travel?

The most obvious answer is business travel technology. Employers must arm business travelers with the mobile apps and tools they need to make informed travel decisions based on information that is always accessible and convenient.

Business travelers are connected to their smart devices more than ever. They rely on mobile technology to guide them during trips – from alerts that indicate traffic conditions and flight disruptions to locating amenities in foreign locations. Smartphones provide constant access to vital information while out on the road.

So, lean strongly into a mobile-first approach to arm travelers with information and capabilities that help them feel confident and safe while traveling.

What does this mean for the road warrior communities out there?

Some say, "more travel on fewer shoulders" and "more flexibility." These may be part of the answer, but the reliance on business travel technology, especially mobile technology, can help solve many of the issues business travelers face today.

From the beginning to the end of a road warrior's travel day, advances in business travel technology are making every step easier and more efficient. Biometrics at security checkpoints, keyless entry, and touchless payments are just some of the advances that make business travel more comfortable. The right travel apps and tools can eliminate many of the most stressful aspects of the journey, which help business travelers do their jobs more efficiently and effectively than the competition.

What business travel technologies should I be leveraging?

Here are some business travel technology must-haves:

 Apps

  • TripIt and TripIt Pro: The world's highest-rated travel organizing iOS app. TripIt organizes all your travel plans in one place, so you know where to be and when. TripIt Pro (a premium service) gives you access to additional features and functionalities like real-time flight alerts, terminal and gate reminders, interactive airport maps, and more!
  • Google MapsOne of the more substantial global country map guides with over 220 countries and territories. It provides real-time GPS navigation, traffic, and transit information.
  • Rideshare Apps: Traveling for business has never been easier. Connect your account(s) like Uber and Lyft to SAP Concur in our App Center, and your business trip receipts will automatically be sent to Concur Expense.
  • Xe Currency Converter: Provides reliable and up-to-the-minute exchange rates for road warriors traveling out of the country.
  • TripLingo: An excellent all-around language translation app that offers users help with translations covering 44 countries, cultural knowledge, safety, and travel tools, and even a free international Wi-Fi dialer.
  • Travelex (travel insurance): Helps provide essential coverage for unforeseen incidents like medical emergencies, trip cancellations or delays, lost or stolen valuables, and missed connections. The additional expense for peace of mind is worth every penny!
  • ExpenseIt (within the SAP Concur mobile app): Simply take a photo of your receipt, and ExpenseIt will review and itemize the data for you so you can enjoy a paperless expense claim process.

Wi-Fi

  • In-flight Wi-Fi: With the increased dependency on mobile phones, laptops, and tablets, free Wi-Fi is no longer considered a perk; it's an expectation—even while flying. Employees can stay productive during long-haul flights with faster in-flight internet access with high-speed internet in the cabin.
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN): Install and use your company VPN on your phone and computer. A VPN provides privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. Check with your IT and or security department to help thwart cyber thieves.
  • Beware of public Wi-Fi: It's good practice not to allow devices to connect automatically to new Wi-Fi networks and disable Bluetooth as much as possible. Research conducted by cybersecurity company NordVPN revealed that one in four travelers have been hacked while using public Wi-Fi on their travels abroad. And most of those attacks occurred while people were in transit at airports and bus or train stations.

Health

  • Digital health pass / vaccine passport: While we all hoped the endemic would be far behind us this year, it remains the primary concern for many travelers. The good news is there are multiple choices for digital documentation of your vaccination status. Some digital health pass providers include International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass, VeriFLY, V-Health, and CommonPass, to name a few.
  • One of the challenges of the vaccine passport is identifying a universal platform, so be sure and check what platform the country or airline accepts.

Will technology continue to shape the future of business travel?

Business travel has already changed tremendously over the last two years. Going virtual has proven to be a valuable addition to many companies' business tool kits, thus altering many travel budgets going forward. But travel remains a crucial part of any business, and technology continues to play an essential role in keeping business travelers informed and providing guidance to travel managers.

There's no denying that next-gen technologies—augmented reality, machine learning, artificial intelligence—will continue to redefine the way we travel and shape the way we seek and select our travel experiences now and in the future.

But, despite all the advancements in travel technology, one thing remains consistent: our instinct to want to explore, learn about different cultures, and meet new people in unfamiliar environments. Traveling is deeply rooted in the human psyche, and our inner workings remain the primary driver of travel, whether for business or pleasure.

Happy travels!

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