Technology empowers business travellers
Technology, as we all know, is a wonderful thing. It's an enabler that can literally change lives, in the social sphere as well as in the corporate travel space. Technology enables corporate travel efficiencies, cost savings, time savings and, most of all, empowerment.
Technology empowers corporate travellers to take more control of their working lives. Online booking and expense management tools can help travellers book their own travel, receive alerts of changes to itineraries, and respond accordingly by sharing their updated information with friends, family and their employers using the tools they prefer.
What about the travel manager?
But as travellers download more and more apps - many of which are geared to leisure travellers - where does that leave the travel manager, whose job it is to keep them safe as part of their duty of care, as well as rein them in to book travel within the formal, written policy?
Many industry observers foresee increasing tension between travellers and travel managers as travellers' consumer-driven behaviour and expectations lead them to demand more choice and autonomy. This trend is likely to accelerate as more travellers become ever more technologically savvy and digital natives of Generation Y join the workplace.
Ultimately the move is towards a traveller-centric world and away from the travel programme-centric status quo.
Quite clearly, something has to give
Will it be the policy? Some suggest the travel policy - with cost control and data capture at its core - will become outdated and should metamorphose into a set of guidelines for individual travel budgets.
Others suggest that smart travel managers should promote flexibility by promoting certain apps and channels, giving their travellers the multi-channel communications they desire, using social networks, travel rating sites, Tweets, blogs or other means, so they can share their travel experiences.
However it pans out, what is obvious is that travel managers need to adapt their thinking, and fast, if they are to keep their travellers on side.