attachment, president Philippe Chereque said. The TMC
is exploring some flight change, exchange and ancillary
capabilities, as well. In the meantime, Amex GBT isn’t imminently focused on bringing full air booking into its app.
How Other TMCs Are
Approaching Mobile Booking
Executive Travel is launching air, car and hotel booking within its app any day now, president Steve Glenn
said. Last year, the agency’s app developer, Mantic
Point, enlisted corporate booking tech provider Nu-Travel to incorporate booking capabilities. Executive
Travel is the launch client for that partnership.
Other TMCs defer to established online booking
tools for mobile booking. Travel and Transport and
Ovation, for example, each offer an app to clients,
but for booking, they punch out to a client’s preferred
third-party online booking system’s app using single-
sign-on. “We’re not utilizing the app to actually make
the booking outside of any other source,” said Ova-
tion SVP of operations technology Tiffany Serviss.
“What we’ve done is tied into the online booking tool
of the account. If they’re using Get There, it will point
to Get There. If it’s Concur, it will point to Concur.”
As for yet another approach to TMC-powered mo-
bile bookings, Short’s Travel Management is among a
few TMCs with a proprietary desktop booking tool. It
recently launched a mobile Web version of its booking
tool to support smartphone bookings. The company
cited app fatigue in its decision not to launch a sepa-
rate native app for booking.
Meanwhile, Expedia’s Egencia for years has furnished
full booking capabilities within its app, though adoption
has not been overly resounding and pales in comparison
to Expedia’s leisure channels and Egencia’s own online
desktop bookings. Even so, many participants in the
corporate travel sphere are bullish on mobile booking
growth. Clearly, several want to participate.
Will They Book?
According to a Phocuswright survey fielded in January
and released in July, 37 percent of the 1,000 managed
business travelers surveyed had completed an airline
reservation on a mobile device and 28 percent had
modified an airline reservation on one. Adoption is
even higher for hotel, for which 54 percent had booked
on mobile and 27 percent had modified a reservation.
Phocuswright, which like BTN is owned by Northstar
Travel Group, saw a greater propensity among younger
travelers in corporate workforces to book on mobile.
The research did not untangle to what extent, if any,
these travelers used company-sanctioned apps affiliated
with their TMCs or OBTs. Indeed, the research showed
travelers are all over the place in terms of where they
book—be that within corporate-sanctioned channels,
on public booking sites like online travel agencies or
directly with the supplier.
It remains to be seen whether TMC-sponsored apps
can capture what many execs see as growing traveler
demand for mobile booking. BCD’s Snyder predicted
that within a few years, “almost all bookings are going
to be mobile or mobile Web. We’ll offer both of those
through our platform. I think there’s always going to
be a place for the Concurs of the world, but without
a doubt, I think we see the migration to mobile prob-
ably happening pretty quickly.”
Nu Travel chief strategy officer Rich Miller is similarly
bullish, predicting that within three years, “60 percent-
plus of bookings are going to originate on some kind of
mobile device.” CWT’s Ekert said facilitating air book-
ing is “fundamental” to “influencing and improving
user experience.” He added: “We want to be relatively
indifferent in terms of where the booking happens, but
if people are going there, we want that. One of the ad-
vantages we have is: This wasn’t built many years ago as
a browser product and then tried to extend into mobile.
It’s mobile first.” He stressed clients have the choice of
whether they’ll use CWT’s app for booking or use in-
stead their preferred OBT.
As for corporate travel providers that already are live
for mobile booking, adoption has been relatively low. At
Egencia, 8 percent of air bookings were made on a mobile device, according to figures shared earlier this year
with The Beat, also owned by Northstar Travel Group.
“That is lagging a little bit from what we see in our leisure
channels,” Egencia director of product management Juan
Esteves said. Mobile bookings at Deem, meanwhile, accounted for 6 percent of the T&E tech provider’s mix as
of March. Yet, the company said the rate of growth has
greatly accelerated from last year.
As TMCs determine how far they want to get into
the mobile point of sale, several sources expressed
concern about app fatigue or app confusion. Managed
travel programs have thrown corporate-approved
apps at various travel-related tasks, in some cases providing different apps for booking, in-trip management
and expense reporting.
A Global Business Travel Association study last
year concluded: “Business travelers use a variety of
travel-related mobile apps during their trips, but in
all countries surveyed, supplier apps are more commonly used than travel management company, itinerary management and expense management apps.”
Norm Rose, president of Travel Tech Consulting and
co-author of the Phocuswright report, said earlier this
year that travelers will gravitate to the mobile booking
channel that best serves them, not necessarily the ones
that the company puts in front of them. “It’s dictated by
the need of the traveler,” he said. “They’re going to go to
the point of least resistance. For trip disruption, maybe
it’s a TMC app, maybe it’s an airline app. If they’re going
to get a last-minute hotel, maybe it’s the OTA app. It’s
very much driven by their need. It’s hard for travel managers to dictate what is done on the mobile device.”
“[Within a few
are going to
be mobile or
—BCD TRAVEL’S JOHN SNYDER
Managed Travelers’ Mobile Maneuvers
Made airline reservation
Modified airline reservation
Made hotel reservation
Modified hotel reservation