NB: This is a guest post by Miriam Moscovici, director of strategic marketing and technology planning at BCD Travel.
Thanks to the growth of smartphones and the social web, today’s work force has developed new habits and high expectations.
These center on interactive information-sharing, mobility, interoperability, user-centered design and collaboration. But such expectations are changing the way they see, and move through, the landscape of managed travel.
Properly deployed, social web and mobile technology can help keep travelers informed and aware, offer newly personalized corporate travel experiences and feed vital information into the corporation’s program management framework and processes.
Travel managers and business travel suppliers can’t afford to wait to begin adopting these products and services into managed travel because travelers are forging rapidly ahead – with or without consent.
In the new age of corporate travel, the travel manager is the influencer and the traveler is the architect.
The challenge can be daunting without proper guidance. But by following these 13 tips, you’ll be well on your way to harnessing the forces of social and mobile web to support your managed travel program.
1. Incorporate the wisdom of the crowd for a true picture of program performance.
Social networks foster a sense of investment in the travel process by allowing travelers to contribute to the experience in a way that can have a positive impact on their peers.
Carve out a place for the travel program in your social enterprise (see below) to enable the sharing of user-generated content among your travelers.
2. Explore new collaboration tools.
Speak with your company leadership to learn about any plans to deploy social enterprise tools.
Most organizations are evaluating and deploying a new wave of modern collaboration tools at some level, and travel is the perfect area to champion the effort.
And don’t be afraid of LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook – use them to your advantage!
If your organization isn’t ready to deploy a social enterprise tool, you can still create a crowd of travelers to collaborate with on these open and now “traditional” social channels.
3. Achieve “better than policy” performance by engaging travelers.
Social web is an excellent arena for fostering healthy competition among peers, and can become the backdrop for incentive programs that promote traveler behavior changes.
4. Get rid of preconceptions.
Travelers’ enthusiastic adoption of consumer travel technologies and the social Web, as well as their increasing willingness to share their thoughts (good and bad!) with anyone, anytime, aren’t threats – they’re opportunities.
They are not “rogue,” they are early adopters!
5. Proceed with caution when going multinational.
Although it makes sense to have global mobile and social media strategies, the differing technologies and cultural attitudes mean there may have to be considerable variations across markets.
Engage the right stakeholders to head off obstacles and build cross-country support.
6. Help your organization understand potential new costs and opportunities.
Your new mobile strategy might entail bigger enterprise data plans or “app allowances” that permit travelers to customize their mobile devices to their travel lifestyles by reimbursing them for certain tools or services.
Some of these costs could be offset by working creatively with suppliers to establish advertising programs within the mobile sphere.
7. Work closely with your TMC.
Because they connect the company, the traveler community and the individual traveler, the travel management company can generate key data that can be used for intelligence and insight into a corporation’s spend, procurement opportunities and strategic objectives.
8. Learn from your road warriors.
Your travelers will tell you which mobile applications are most valuable to them on the road or which social networking tools help them stay productive while traveling.
Share the results with your travelers to help them find the tools best for them.
9. Empower the mobile traveler.
A well-informed traveler is an empowered traveler. Mobile tools give the traveler contextual awareness: What is happening and who is near me where I am right now?
Remember, one size does not fit all, and you should expect different travelers to employ different tools to meet their needs.
10. Support duty-of-care initiatives.
Travel is not without risk—and travelers should be secure in the knowledge that they can get help when they need it.
From major crisis to simple disruption, the traveler is connected to their company and their travel team by increasingly sophisticated mobile devices that can enable locate-and-assist services through reliable SMS and GPS technologies.
11. Assist mobile/cell phone procurement; be the traveler advocate.
The smart phone is the ultimate business travel tool and the channel through which travelers enable themselves.
Travel managers must ensure the mobile devices and data plans provided to their employees will support all types of traveler usage.
12. Refine your own information flow.
Get the information overflow under control. Use a mashup tool like Netvibes or iGoogle to customize your own information sources.
Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, supplier communications, industry news all in one place. You can use this tool to stay up to date and can even share it with your travelers to bring them a collection of the most valuable news sources. [NB: Check out Netvibes.com/bcdtravel for ideas]
13. Lean on your suppliers.
Travel suppliers have social networking and mobile strategies of their own. Learn how they are improving their services and providing new channels for interaction; encourage appropriate uses of these new supplier services.
NB: This is a guest post by Miriam Moscovici, director of strategic marketing and technology Planning at BCD Travel.