Mobile mainstream: What do business travellers want from their mobile travel service?

With smartphone and tablet penetration reaching 75% for business travellers, the mobile channel offers the best opportunity to drive service innovation and increase revenue and customer loyalty.* Mobile is now so resolutely mainstream that to succeed, all travel companies must understand how mobile impacts their business and how they can benefit from this dynamically growing channel.

Earlier this year, Travelport Digital surveyed more than 400 business travellers across Europe and the USA to find out what they want from their mobile travel services.

Conducted by a global market research company with a database of over 10 million people, the survey focused on four major markets: France, Germany, the UK and the USA. The majority of respondents were frequent travellers with middle to high incomes, between the ages of 20 and 60 and comprised of both men and women; singles, couples and families.

The survey revealed that business travellers are increasingly turning to mobile services in order to support their travel needs. Moreover the new always connected traveller demands a more sophisticated and personalised mobile travel service, able to deliver both a personal and a seamless end-to-end travel experience. The survey provides an insightful snapshot of usage patterns and attitudes towards mobile for business travel. In addition, the research details some gaps between existing and desired features and capabilities for mobile travel services, offering a valuable insight into where travel companies might benefit most from investment in their mobile platforms.

Always connected traveller

When asked which types of device travellers normally take whilst on a business trip, the majority of respondents indicated they carried a smartphone (90%) and/or a laptop (83%), with just over half of travellers bringing a tablet. These results prove that mobile devices are an irreplaceable companion at every stage of the travel experience and that to meet traveller’s expectations travel companies must deliver their services via mobile.

When asked about the use of mobile travel services, an overwhelming majority of respondents indicated that they used both mobile apps and websites for their travel. These included airline apps, hotel apps, travel advisory apps and TMCs apps; regardless of the specific corporate policy relating to these apps or whether the app was provided by their TMC. Travellers seem unlikely to abandon a do-it-yourself approach as they know a wide range of valuable and efficient services and tools are available to them. This strongly suggests that TMCs which are able to come to grips with open booking and capture and allow travellers to manage bookings and itinerary elements booked via third-party services, would gain a significant advantage.

Greater functionality and better usability

We asked business travellers what they liked about the mobile apps or mobile websites that they use for business travel. All responses can be categorised into three main areas: convenience, functionality or usability. ‘Convenience in a nutshell’, ‘Always available’, ‘Live information – always up to date’, ‘Simple and easy to use’ and ‘Quick and responsive’ were the top rated answers.

We also wanted to hear what business travellers didn’t like about mobile services for business travel and we found that ‘Poor performance’, ‘Lacking features’ and ‘Poor usability’ were the most common complaints. While poor performance can be addressed by better technical implementations, and higher quality, fully native mobile apps, the ‘Lacking features’ complaints suggest a real requirement for full-featured mobile services. Travellers know that these services can be delivered by mobile, and are not entirely happy to accept their absence.

The most commonly cited “missing” features were:

  • Inability to book hotels or flights
  • Inability to check-in for flights
  • Inability to change travel plans on the go

Complaints about poor usability once again highlight the critical importance of good design and user experience expertise in developing mobile travel services.

Personalisation and the end-to-end travel experience

We asked travellers about the most important features of a mobile travel app and unsurprisingly the top three were travel updates, hotel bookings and flight bookings. Business travellers consistently valued the ability to manage all aspects of their trip on the go, edit their travel plans at their destination and receive local restaurant recommendations.

Asked what personalised services would they particularly value in their corporate mobile travel service, business travellers were most interested in ‘Rating notifications for corporate travel policy hotels’ and ‘Regular trips tracked and pre-populated’, closely followed by ‘Notification from FFP miles & loyalty points’. This shows that travellers are looking far beyond simple DIY activity and that they expect not only to manage various aspects of their current trip via mobile but also want to stay fully in control of their future travel experience.

Looking at the wider functionality which business travellers would like to see on their corporate travel app, respondents called for a long list of additional features including currency conversion, miles and FFP account balances in real time, push notifications about flight delays, and in destination weather information.

Business travellers are fully aware of the value that mobile services bring to their overall travel experience. They appreciate the way mobile simplifies travel and provides content in a timely manner, and they want more of these tools and services. Moreover, business travellers recognise that using mobile can mean less paperwork and reporting after the trip which significantly saves time and makes the overall travel experience both hassle-fee and more efficient.

Business-leisure integration and much more

70% of surveyed business travellers would like to see some integration between their personal leisure time and business time. Travellers would appreciate restaurant and tourist attraction recommendations as well as museum and gallery information and shopping guides.

This fits well with the overall desire for mobile services to provide an end-to-end travel experience and leaves a lot of scope open for companies to build a ‘killer app’ to deliver the ultimate experience based on the specific situation and setting the traveller is in.

We would be delighted to share the detailed set of our survey results. To request the full survey results, please contact

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