Most travellers will have multiple travel apps on their phone to help smooth their journey. But how can travel managers incorporate the most appropriate apps into their managed travel programme in order to engage travellers, keep them in policy and ensure duty of care?
The answer is by defining and implementing an effective mobile strategy.
Factors to consider
- App Fatigue – there tends to be a huge drop in app usage three weeks after the user downloads it; even if usage continues, there is a churn of about 70% after three months – so make sure your travel app is going to be truly beneficial to your users.
- Personal v company – employees may not want to share their personal details via their company mobile; some employees don’t want the hassle of two mobile phones; some companies are against employees sharing corporate information via their personal mobile. Which phone should travellers use to install your mobile travel app?
- Lightbulb moment - there’s no point installing an app for the sake of it just because it seems like a good idea
- What’s your problem statement? In other words what are you trying to solve by implementing a mobile app for your travellers?
Questions to ask
There are a number of initial questions that a Travel Manager needs to ask in order to define a mobile strategy. Who is this app for – who are your target users? What’s the objective – do you want to simplify workflows, or automate certain processes? What departments will this affect? Is this strategy endorsed at executive level? Does anyone object because of security considerations or data roaming costs? What would 100% adoption look like? Can you show positive ROI – not necessarily financial, it could be based on employee satisfaction?
Once you have these answers, then don’t necessarily try to build the app yourself. Find out if you can leverage the expertise of a travel partner who already has experience of delivering mobile apps to market. Or if your travellers already use certain apps, could it be beneficial to incorporate these applications into your travel programme?
Michel Rouse, Chief Technology Officer, FCM Travel Solutions, said: "When FCM developed Sam, our chatbot-based app for business travellers, we decided to focus on the end user and combine the variety of services and information they need throughout their journey within one simple interface. However, we never assumed anything. We encouraged users to give feedback and help shape the app so that it gives them what they need on the move."
Deployment is a team effort
So, you’ve made a decision about which mobile app to deploy, but now you need to ensure it comes to life and gains traction among users. Firstly, involve all the right departments in the deployment process – whether that’s finance, HR or IT; then identify ‘ambassadors’ within your company to pilot the app and endorse its benefits; and make sure you have support from executive management not just in terms of budget but someone who recognises the business benefits of implementing a mobile strategy.
"Encourage your travellers to use the app, alleviate their concerns; show them ‘what’s in it for me’," said Rouse. "Don’t mandate usage - carrots work better than sticks. Above all communicate effectively with your travellers. If your mobile app isn’t adopted by your travellers it will be a waste of your time. But if it is, then based on research by the GBTA, you could see a huge increase in traveller engagement and compliance, and a big reduction in traveller friction and off-programme bookings."