The business traveller of today looks a lot different to the one that was around even a decade ago. With an average age of 27, the new generation of travellers are a young, digitally minded group who have changing expectations and habits. This is pushing the industry to evolve and shifting the goalposts for travel companies.

Most of those travelling for work want the flexibility that comes with booking their own travel. They are therefore opting for self-service booking tools to organise flights, accommodation and transportation. These tools cater to their needs, offering convenience and control over the travel experience.

This new age of travellers are also more likely to incorporate personal time and activities while on a business trip. ‘Bleisure’ has become a bit of a buzzword in the industry, but companies need to ensure they are factoring this trend into their travel policies. This might, for example, involve offering the option of billing for expenses between business and personal activities via the same app.

Meanwhile, the desire for on-demand booking continues to grow, as evidenced by the increasing use of app-based ground transportation – we’ve seen the rise of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, for example, in recent years. Similar innovation is happening among local taxi firms, many of whom can now offer customers the ability to book via an app.

Technology shaping the industry

Traveller expectations – and the industry as a whole – are being shaped by technology. Mobile booking tools don’t just matter to the traveller, but can enable travel managers, TMCs and suppliers to be proactive with communication and keep up with changing demands.

Travel managers are yet to use the data they are gathering from trips to its full potential as mobile is still in its infancy with many TMCs. Some are developing their own app, which offers a ‘look not book’ itinerary, while others are using platforms such as Travelport and Amadeus to access mobile products.

However, we can expect data-driven decisions to become much more widespread and open up plenty of new opportunities in the industry. This technology can give companies access to real-time information – so in the case of on-demand mobility, this should enable greater duty of care and traveller tracking. They will be able to accurately see an individual’s location and the mode of transport they are currently travelling in.

This is not about invading a traveller’s privacy, but rather making the in-journey experience more comfortable and safer for them.

Transport operators keeping pace

For transport operators offering services in this space, the focus is on using technology to match supply to demand.

They need to work closely with technology providers and TMCs to ensure end-to-end journeys are seamless for travellers. Moving forward, this will involve integrating the mobile experience so operators can fulfil everything from booking to payments and expense management.

Taking the example of the iGo network, which was first built for the taxi industry, trip aggregators are now able to feed jobs into this platform, offering widespread ground transport coverage and allowing them to get a ride to a passenger much faster.

All that remains is to replicate this ease-of-use throughout the entire travel network. We want travel to be a seamless experience and for this to become a reality, industry consolidation will be key.