Technology is changing the way we communicate but most business professionals would agree meetings are best done face-to-face. It’s little wonder then that corporate travel is booming. It was the top growth market in Australia’s travel sector, jumping 11 per cent to 21.3 million journeys in the year to March 2018.
There’s clearly an opportunity and a need to address this demand, providing better ways to get around and driving efficiencies. In recent Cabcharge research, 69 per cent of those surveyed agreed technology will change what business travel looks like in the future.
Changing the way it feels to be a corporate traveller will be even more important. Technology is powerful because it’s converged so much. It’s easy to forget that your smartphone is a navigation device and internet connection with a number of built-in security capabilities. You understand what it allows you to accomplish but it’s more than the sum of its parts.
You can use these different capabilities to solve the problems facing you. Instead of a one-size-fits-all solution, designed to cover as many scenarios as possible, technology can be used to solve specific challenges.
In a business travel environment this will change the corporate travel industry narrative, providing an ability to personalise travel experiences.
Control and transparency
The digital world has changed the benchmarks around corporate travel but not expectations. One thing that’s really misunderstood is that businesses need to deal with scale. There are millions of employees across Australia who need a level of autonomy to book, schedule, organise and expense their travel. But companies still need to maintain control and oversight. It’s a difficult balance.
Companies that cater to corporate travel have to deal with scale efficiently – the systems they provide must make travel easier to manage. This means providing frictionless services that does away with tiresome processes like manual expenses. Having to hold on to receipts until the end of the month is not only frustrating for staff but can be time-consuming and difficult for the businesses to oversee as well.
The other big challenge is duty of care. Most companies will tell you their people are their most important asset. Employees need to be safe but should also have a positive experience. That’s also true when moving clients around. Travel acts as an extension of the experience the company is providing so it has to be exceptional.
This is a huge shift in the view of the corporate traveller – building an experience. Companies today understand the corporate traveller is a regular consumer outside of office hours, with demands and expectations that are shaped by the consumer world.
It means they’re frustrated when the experience doesn’t live up to these expectations. They don’t want to have to wait around to have paper receipts printed. They don’t want to have the annoyance of holding on to transaction records until the end of the expense run or dealing with the finance department when one gets lost.
The needs of corporate travel is no longer just about pushing out a product. It’s about honing in on a very specific need that somebody has – finding a solution, testing it and getting feedback. It’s no longer enough to have a single option and expect it to work for everybody.
Technology to personalise
The impact of these shifts in technology and corporate traveller needs mean old assumptions around product design must be ditched. You need to start from scratch and reconsider the entire customer journey. We’re asking these questions so we can get more specific in solving needs at the right time.
Technology holds the answer to solving these problems. Cabcharge is currently building what we’re calling the car of the future. It’s about exploring what technology we could put into a car to solve your business problems or improve the corporate travel experience.
This could be cameras ensuring that your staff are safe when they head home late at night. Or it would be Wi-Fi networks, allowing business travellers to work on the move. These solutions are technology agnostic – the experience comes first.
We’re also exploring how to solve problems for drivers. How can we help them earn more money by getting them to the right places? We recently announced we are acquiring Mobile Technologies International; a company which powers the dispatch systems used by most of the taxi companies in Australia, as well as many in North America. Married with our deep data insights, we’re exploring how we can predict where the highest demand is and use this dispatch system to advise drivers where to go next. This helps everyone – corporate travellers get where they need to go faster, drivers get more customers.
These efforts will continue. Many companies are playing out scenarios where artificial intelligence is commonplace and cars drive themselves. How does the model work when nobody needs to own or drive a car?
There are more questions than answers at the moment because we’re just at the start of this journey. But the focus must stay on the experiences we can provide using technology, not just the capability.
New technology tools are the key to reshaping corporate travel but they will always be part of the journey and never the destination. The focus is still on building an unrivalled experience.
About the author
Deon Ludick, Chief Technology Officer, Cabcharge