Strategic Meetings Summit London, 26 September,
September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
Mobile technology which lets travellers book or change itineraries outside policy needs to be both embraced and controlled, travel buyers told a London forum today (May 12).
Emma DeLange, European travel manager for Amdocs, an IT company, said her travellers wanted to use new technology on iPhones.
“You can fight it but it is inevitable. They are going to download it and use it. We have to embrace it and find ways to control it as much as we can,” she told delegates at the event organised by ACTE and Management Solutions UK.
DeLange said her company was “a little concerned about it” and was actively putting together a policy to control it.
“We have to embrace it and decide what boundaries we can impose and where they should be so travellers can have an easy life,” she said.
But Bridget Stack, travel manager for the Kerry Group said that while she did not mind her travellers using iPhones to pick restaurants, she felt “really frustrated about travellers being able to book on them.”
It put such bookings outside her MI and possibly also outside the company’s duty of care.
Stack called on the industry’s IT providers to develop software to stop this “maverick booking.”
She said the industry needed one platform to bring up the best rates. “It is all very well looking at the latest technology but we have to get the basics right first,” Stack said.
Barry Padgett, executive VP and general manager for Concur in Western Europe and Africa, said the travel debate was currently around convenience for the traveller as well as about budget control.
Nowadays, people will have a blackberry in one pocket, an iPhone in another and every app they need to make life and travelling easier for them,” he said.
Padgett said a technological shift in the industry was taking place. It was no longer enough for travellers to receive information on which terminal to go to.
They now wanted quality upgrades which told them about other flights which were available, prices, turn by turn directions to their hotels, the ability book flights, pick seats – all without help from the travel agent.
Padgett said they will also soon want customised and personalised information, like the whereabouts of the types of restaurants they liked.
“That is where the system is going now and there is no point trying to stop it. WE are all in the same boat, trying to figure out what will be the mobile device everyone will want in a year’s time so we can stay ahead of the game,” he said.
But he added that Stack’s call for one all embracing platform was the industry’s Holy Grail.
Will Hasler, travel manager for PwC, said such a platform would be a Utopia which the industry would not get, but it must get close.
“We can’t fight this new technology and I am not naive enough to think my travellers don’t have an iPhone in their pocket,” he added.