Mobile Travel Policy. Do you have one?
Very few companies claim to have a comprehensive mobile travel policy. Majority of professionals use their mobile devices both in and outside the office to stay productive. Hence it is time to act, in order to catch up with the lightning speed of developments in the mobile space.
It is safe to say that a majority of professionals use their mobile devices both in and outside the office. It helps them to stay productive but when it comes to business travel, people use their mobiles far more frequently. Travel bookings, accommodations, hotel reviews, expense reporting, and maps of unknown airports - are just a few of many tasks that a mobile device is used for during a business travel but are these activities covered in the relevant policies?
Very few companies claim to have a comprehensive mobile travel policy. Majority of companies have some sort of policy governing the use of mobile devices for official purposes but this tends to be written more from an IT perspective and does not cover the specifics on how mobile devices are to be used within the travel process. Hardly anyone would argue that business travel is a great fit for mobile services, hence it is clearly time to act. Travel managers should start overhauling travel policy to reflect the changing market. Actually due to the good fit, a travel department can easily find itself pioneering the mobile policy for entire enterprise. Cooperation with other departments such as IT or security is critical as travel-specific mobile policy should be aligned to avoid confusion among its users.
There are obviously many doubts and many reasons why companies have not written mobile travel policies as yet. Who pays for the apps and devices? Will the security be assured? Is it acceptable for suppliers to market directly to travelers? How to prevent employees using travel apps in a way that violate travel policy? Travel managers will certainly try to answer as many of such questions as possible prior formalizing mobile travel policy. Alternatively existing key suppliers such as Travel Management Companies (TMCs) may have existing solutions enabling quick deployment and providing sufficient level of security. However a very critical factor is to include the IT department from the beginning and clarify who owns the device and who pays for apps. Moreover the entire mobile space should be looked at strategically and avoid the narrow vision of which of available apps have potential to enhance the travel program.
Historically travel managers started with the implementation of mobile solutions with limited risk of policy violations. Examples include approvals, itinerary apps and alerts pushed to traveler's mobile devices. Hotel, rail and car bookings were the next in line but doubts and issues persisted with air bookings. The main problem was the small smartphone screen disabling the display features - especially the available fares - in the same way as full-blown online booking tools. Another key issue was the existence of direct offers from the app providers incentivizing the bookings of auxiliary items such as seating or upgrades. Despite this, key technology providers in this area are currently saying that they found a way to offer mobile users the ability to research and buy air tickets in the policy-compliant way. However it is safe to say that technology development of corporate travel apps has been slower to keep up with consumer counterparts.
Corporations missing mobile elements in their travel policies should act immediately. The mobile world is developing at lightning speed and may quickly go out of control. Sophisticated solutions are currently available in the market and the development is not showing signs of slowing down. Travelers' experience should be the key when composing the mobile travel policy. The aim should be to make travelers' life easier. Travelers should be able to perform all steps of the travel process using their mobile devices in a policy-compliant way.