Sabre: Travel Industry Must Leverage Mobile

The explosion of mobile travel services over the past several years has single-handedly “consumerized” business travel, Sabre Travel Network reports, offering a sneak peek into the results of its biannual mobile survey of business travelers.

Tomorrow’s travelers will expect even more convenience and functionality from their mobile devices, and corporations and travel management companies must meet those needs or risk being left behind, Sabre said.

“Our survey shows that business travel today is personal. Travelers want the same functionality and convenience from their business travel tools that they have in their daily lives. People use travel services on their smart phones everyday and for every trip – before, during and after they travel,” said Chris Kroeger, senior vice president of Sabre Travel Network. “The corporate travel industry needs to keep pace with the services and apps that travelers can access in their personal life and incorporate those into the world of managed business travel.”

According to the Sabre’s survey, 63 percent of business travelers want to receive destination specific offers from local businesses - an 85 percent increase from 2009 – and 47 percent of business travelers use their smartphone daily to view or receive advertisements, a 95 percent increase from 2009.

“One of the biggest trends we see in the survey data is travelers’ desire for local business information and offerings based on their location via their smartphone or tablet,” said Kroeger. “Travelers will look for this information from suppliers, travel management companies and technology resources such as online booking tools like GetThere (a Sabre brand). Smart and savvy travel management companies will use technology as a way to fill this need and improve customer support and solidify customer loyalty. ”

Consumers increasingly want to access navigational tools and maps on their mobile devices. According to the Sabre survey:
    •    72 percent of business travelers are interested in ability to view hotels on a map, an increase of 26 percent from 2009.
    •    43 percent of business travelers reported daily use of their smart phone to access navigation services
    •    71 percent want to receive driving directions to a specific location via their smart phone

“Consumers already rely on their mobile devices to help them navigate their way through cities around the world,” Kroger said. “In the future, they’ll look for mobile services that are not only location-based but contextually-aware such as airport navigational tools with the ability to find in-airport businesses but also have deals and offers pushed to their smartphone.”

Sabre’s survey showed that nearly three-fourths of business travelers are interested in shopping and booking air options. More than two-thirds want to shop for and make hotel reservations via mobile devices and 66 percent of respondents reported interest in the ability to add a hotel reservation to an existing itinerary.

However, Sabre reports, the highest growth was seen in the ground category. Sixty-two percent of respondents are interested in booking rental cars via their smart phone, a 32 percent increase from 2009 and 60 percent of respondents want to shop for car rentals via their smartphone, a 33 percent increase.

“Today’s business travelers expect transactional capabilities from their mobile devices including buying air extras and in-flight amenities,” Kroeger said. “Tomorrow’s business travelers will move from physical passports, wallets and credit cards and will expect their mobile device to fill those needs as continued advancements in mobile payment, commerce and banking make it easier to electronically transact via mobile devices.”

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