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Plugged In: What do business travelers expect from their tech?

December 12, 2019

The most recent iteration of the GBTA Traveler Sentiment IndexTM yielded more positive results. The latest release also yielded some interesting findings on technology.

While talk of technology in business travel tends to dwell on the future, our study found that traveler sentiment today is still greatly influenced by technologies that we all take for granted.

The importance of connections

Let’s start with a simple example. Imagine traveling alone in an unfamiliar place with an important meeting tomorrow. You may want to review notes, check last-minute details and coordinate with teammates. An erratic Wi-Fi signal can quickly become the bane of your experience.

In fact, about eight in ten travelers spend an hour or more working off hotel room Wi-Fi. Two-thirds of respondents spend an hour or more using Wi-Fi for leisure purposes like connecting with their families.

It’s no wonder that 87% of employees still report regular access to Wi-Fi as a top driver of satisfaction when traveling for work. Despite this, GBTA found only about half of travel managers actually gather vendor technology information such as hotel Wi-Fi speed during RFPs.

Travel security for data

A downside of this high Wi-Fi consumption in hotels is the increased exposure to networks with lower security.

Only one-third of travelers reported using a VPN when accessing the internet in their hotel rooms, and just over half of travelers reported exercising more caution in hotels than their office when accessing sensitive information.

Although the proliferation of HTTPS websites and the availability of encryption and cyber-security tools have made using Wi-Fi safer at hotels, you should still instruct travelers to only access sensitive personal and corporate information through a VPN or secure channels while traveling.

The “Innovations” travelers really want

Responses to the most anticipated hotel innovation show how much travelers crave convenience and an uninterrupted experience. Mobile check-in, service requests, keycards, and streaming services all scored highly.

Half of travelers also said they’d like to be able to control their room via their mobile app. That may mean adjusting the temperature before arriving to a freezing cold room or closing the curtains and turning the light off from the comfort of bed.

But, before hotels adopt the internet of things, they must get the basics right. When it comes to technology, travelers are still most interested in in-room laptop and phone chargers.

This is an easy fix for hotels. They can supply commonly-used laptop and phone chargers, or go out and buy some adapter units. Today it’s acceptable for travelers to forget a razor and show up to meetings with a little scruff, but they cannot show up with a dead laptop.

For travel managers, providing packing tips can help. You may even want to write out a starter packing list that travelers can use. For your more frequent travelers, suggest having a “go bag” or “bug-out bag” ready.

Silent sentiment influences

People expect issues with flights, but not getting an instant push-notification about it is inexcusable. Be sure your travelers are using apps that can alert them of itinerary changes and security-related issues.

You will also want to ensure travelers have an app that they can easily book travel in. Although most travelers still book through their laptop, road warriors will greatly appreciate it if you put a quick and easy-to-use booking tool in their pocket.

Clear displays with amenity call-outs along with search results that take corporate policy, proximity to worksite and traveler preferences into account are the keys to a great corporate booking tool.

Although we all get excited about the idea of hotels with robot cleaning services, automatic check-ins and Star Trek style touchscreen room panels, the reality is that travelers would rather stay in hotels with strong fundamental technologies that ease their transition from office to hotel.

For travel managers, technology is also more about creating a seamless experience than a futuristic one. This is good news because that puts more capability and technology in your hands to support traveler needs.


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