Business Traveler Customer Journey

Part
01
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Part
01

Business Traveler Customer Journey

A typical customer's journey for someone planning a business trip includes deciding to travel for a meeting or business event, creating an itinerary, searching for expert advice on travel websites, using fare aggregators to book trips and finally using spend management platforms to make payments. The major business travel barrier experienced by employees is adherence to company policy. After an exhaustive search through industry publications, surveys, and reports, an overview of the logical flow of a business traveler's customer journey has been provided below.

REASONS AND MOTIVATIONS FOR BUSINESS TRAVEL

  • Common reasons behind business travelers' decision to take a trip include networking, taking samples or examples of current works and prospective projects, and checking the current condition of workers, goods, and facilities. Another major reason behind these corporate trips is to attend meetings and events.
  • According to Fly Aeolus, 76% of business travelers fly to visit outstations or meet a customer. The most common reason for these trips, however, is to visit customers and suppliers.
  • Some workers simply love to travel. 30% of these workers admit that they would accept lower wages if they are offered more business trips. Also, 39% of Generation Z and Millennial workers would not accept jobs that do not allow them to travel. Also, 92% of corporate travelers express satisfaction with their 'quality of life' when they travel for business.

RESOURCES CONSULTED DURING

  • Besides directly contacting travel experts, travel websites such as Expedia and TripAdvisor are typical resources used in obtaining expert advice for business trips. After receiving advice, fare aggregators like Skyscanner and Kayak are then used in booking trips.
  • Spend management platforms such as Spendesk are used in making payment for these business trips.
  • Generally, 57% of travelers prefer using a single mobile app in planning, booking, and tracking their travel. However, "50% of business travelers" do not use the travel booking tools provided by their organization.
  • Fifty five percent of business travelers say that mobile apps help in enhancing their travel time. Sixty nine percent of these travelers say that they would only book for travel on another device if their mobile device has limitations.

STEPS TAKEN IN PLANNING BUSINESS TRAVEL

MAKING TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS IN ADVANCE
  • There very first step that business travelers take in planning for travel is to study and understand the company's travel policy.
  • While making arrangements, the corporate traveler visualizes the various steps involved in the trip from start to finish. Details such as the time taken to move between the railway station and airport, the luggage needed, the estimated time to be spent at the vehicle hire company, and other minor details are considered at this point.
SELECTING ACCOMMODATION BASED ON PRICE AND CONVENIENCE
  • At this point, factors such as distance from the train station or airport to the hotel are considered. Also, the rates for several accommodation options are compared.
  • In many cases, the company policy has benchmarks for the maximum rates allowed. Business travelers also use review platforms at this time to check for room service quality of the hotels, internet service availability, breakfast timing and so on.
CREATING AN ITINERARY
  • At this stage, the traveler drafts a blueprint for his/her business trip. Details like transport times, names of customers to be met, final travel reservations, and accommodation address are compiled at this point.
  • This allows the business traveler to make room for leisure time and unforeseen circumstances such as delayed or overrun meetings, and traffic jams.
RESEARCHING THE DESTINATION
  • This stage is particularly important for business travelers who are visiting a destination for the very first time. At this stage, the traveler researches about various details such as the culture and customs, mannerisms, crime rate and political situation in the region he/she intends to visit.
  • Online tools such as Yelp and Google Maps are a few examples of resources used at this stage.

BUSINESS TRAVEL PLANNING PAIN POINTS AND BARRIERS

  • Forty nine percent of business travelers globally say they are unable to meet company policy which requires them to book for travel in advance. Twenty three percent of these business travelers do not book for domestic trips until the week before departure.
  • Over fifty percent of business travelers say they do not always adhere to company policy while booking. Thirty seven percent of these travelers said the reason for this behavior is convenience. On the other hand, 35% mentioned price as their reason, while 26% said that the suggested travel brands are usually not practical for certain trips.
  • Sixty one percent of North American business travelers say that 'time in transit' is "one of their top five pain points."
  • Seventy five percent of employees are concerned about security when traveling domestically. Forty five percent of organizations are not satisfied with the level of support received from their travel partners.

POINTS WHEN A TRAVEL APP MAY BE USED

  • Eighty five percent of employees prefer booking flights with mobile applications or advanced booking tools.
  • These mobile applications are used by employees to record and keep track of travel expenses with ease.
  • These travel mobile apps also give employees real-time 'access to travel information' during the itinerary planning stages and while in transit.
  • Mobile apps are used by corporate travelers to access customer service at all stages of the customer journey.
  • Also, mobile apps are used to 'modify accommodations' and 'adjust bookings'.
Part
02
of three
Part
02

Business Travelers: App Use

A large number of business travelers use mobile technology to manage their end-to-end travel needs. The main types of travel apps that are used by business travelers during their trips include airline apps, hotel apps, travel advisory apps, and Travel Management Company apps. Business travelers start using these apps as soon as they start planning their trips and continue usage until the end of their trips to book return flights.

BUSINESS TRAVELERS USE OF TRAVEL APPS

MOBILE SERVICE USAGE PATTERNS

  • Based on a survey by Travelport Digital, 90% of business travelers carry a smartphone in their travels, 83% carry a laptop, and just over 50% carry a tablet during their business trips.
  • From the above results, it is clear that mobile devices are "an irreplaceable companion at every stage of the business travel experience and that to meet traveler’s expectations, travel companies must deliver their services via mobile."
  • An overwhelming majority of the surveyed business travelers noted that they used both mobile apps and websites to access travel services during business trips.
  • The major travel services used by a majority of the respondents included airline apps, hotel apps, travel advisory apps, and Travel Management Company (TMC) apps.
  • From the above observation, business travelers start using travel apps as early as they start planning their trips i.e. they use airline apps to book flights and travel advisory apps to look for advisory information for their planned destinations.
  • This usage continues into booking hotels via hotel apps after traveling to their destinations and managing their business trips using the mobile apps of TMCs.
  • From the survey, it is unlikely that business travelers will "abandon a do-it-yourself approach as they know a wide range of valuable and efficient services and tools are available to them."

THE USE OF TRAVEL APPS

  • From the lists of recommended business travel mobile apps on Business Insider, Business News Daily, Computer World, and Inc, it was noted that the commonly recommended travel apps were for managing travel expenditures, manage itinerary, check flight status, book hotels, commute within destinations of travel, and translate foreign languages.
  • Because the above sources are credible sources of travel information, it was concluded that today, business travelers use travel apps to manage trip costs, itinerary and flights, get directions around the travel destinations, to translate foreign languages, book hotels among other uses.

WHAT TRAVELERS LOOK FOR IN TRAVEL APPS

THE USE OF HOTEL APPS

RESEARCH STRATEGY:

We started our research by looking for information on how and when business travelers use travel apps in travel resources such as Hospitality Tech and Travelport Digital. After an exhaustive search through resources of this type, we were unable to find any information that was specific to the research question. The available information was largely on general business travel tips and must have apps. There were also business travel surveys from 2016 that contained some insightful information.

Next, we conducted a search for relevant information in business review and news resources such as Business Insider, Inc, Reuters, Forbes, and CNN. With this strategy, we were only able to find information on the top business travel apps that travelers must have. More specific information that we could use to address the research question was unavailable with this strategy.

In our final research strategy, we decided to target press releases in our search for relevant information. These resources include PR Newswire, Globenewswire, Computer World, and Tech Crunch. After an exhaustive search through these resources, we were still unable to find distinct information on research studies and surveys in the business travel industry that we could use to address the research question.

The absence of information in the public domain prompted us to expand the scope of our research to resources that were older than two years. Even though relevant information was still limited with this strategy, we were able to identify surveys and research studies that were conducted on business travelers. After doing a thorough analysis of these resources, we were able to find significant information that enabled us to adequately address the research criteria. Our detailed findings have been presented above.
Part
03
of three
Part
03

Marketing Travel/Hotel Apps: Best Practices

SUCCESSFULL BEST PRACTICES FOR TRAVEL AND HOTEL APP MARKETING:-

MOBILE VIDEO CAMPAIGNS AND REFFERAL PROGRAMS:

  • One of the best ways to market a hotel app is by introducing mobile video campaigns that display some videos of the hotels and all of its facilities.
  • Introducing marketing programs where users can invite friends right from the app by email or through a Facebook or Twitter post and provide the users with incentives or money bonus can also lead to better publicity results.
  • Another best practice is to make the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter to build a customer base by sharing content such as videos, announcements of new hotels added to the app, and special deals and offers.
  • An example of an organization using such best practices is HotelTonight's app, which resulted in a drastic increase in user base as well as a 115% ROAS (return on ad spend) within one month. Their app install rate also increased by 326%.
  • These practices were also successfully implemented by the MakeMyTrip app resulting in a 20% increase in overall downloads, a 25% increase in conversions, and a 20% increase in transaction rates.

WAYS FOR MARKETING TRAVEL APPs:-

  • Using a flexible theming engine allows travel apps to easily configure colors, fonts, logo placements and the general look and feel to ensure it reflects the unique requirements of the agency’s brand.
  • Incorporating ‘Assist Me’ features means that, in their moment of need, travelers have immediate access to app support. This becomes even more compelling considering that 42% of consumers are more likely to stay with a brand that delivers real-time customer service support.

WAYS TRAVEL APPS CAN INCREASE THEIR CUSTOMER BASE:-

  • Travel apps must be user-friendly so that they provide a flawless and engaging user experience, combined with best-in-class service in order to attract customers.
  • The most powerful marketing tool is using loyal users to recommend travel apps to friends, which means that brand awareness and trust are crucial to get a high user base.

Research Strategy:

We commenced our research by first searching through several sources targeting best practices for marketing hotel apps including Attrock and Travelport but we were unable to find any list that specifically targets the business customers. However, we came across various best practices for marketing hotel/travel apps to general customer segments.
We then looked for research publications, surveys and case studies on hotels or companies that have had success in marketing their apps to their business customers in order to obtain any related insight regarding the commonly used marketing practices. We searched through research databases such as Research Gate, Research Guides, and Pew research, but the majority of the resulted information focused on the impact of digital marketing on tourism in general, with no specific information on business travelers.
As a last resort, we expanded our scope to include best practices for travel apps in general for business customers looking for how travel apps were marketing to business travelers. We searched through a number of sources such as Medium, Business Wire, and PRNewswire. The majority of the information focused on the ways to market travel apps or marketing tips for travel agencies but none of them focus on business travelers. However, from this research, we were able to determine some successful best practices implemented by travel apps like MakemyTrip but those practices were not specifically focused on business travelers.

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