Smartphones are changing the ways we travel – the smarter the app, the better the experience
It is no secret, but now it has a number. The number one pain point for business travelers is the time spent in transit, cited by 61 percent of 630 survey respondents as a top-five challenge in a recent GBTA survey.
Pulse throbbers that include layover, changing reservations for flights, and rebooking hotels hover right up there with filling out expense reports.
More than three quarters of business travelers surveyed said these experiences at least “somewhat” impact their overall job satisfaction – a percentage that’s even higher for Millennial business travelers (88 percent).
Whether a life saver or just a momentary lifeline in a glitched business trip, the race is on in mobile technology to create the next “must have” app that can reduce pains and while possibly resolving the travel problem at hand in a few easy taps.
Here is a list of the top 10 Business Traveler Apps for 2017. Don’t leave your phone without them.Safe Travels
Safety while traveling is an ever-increasing concern. But surprisingly, with all that a smartphone can do to ward off unpleasant predicaments, there are few apps that focus on this need. For those who like to walk and explore in urban environments, there is BSafe, which allows friends, family and colleagues to find your whereabouts in the event the traveler gets into a sticky situation. This sophisticated app can also secure evidence and a time-stamped video recording of a problem and broadcast to companions with a map of current location. It can also produce an actual alarm or siren sound if needed, or even send out a ‘stealth mode’ alert when the situation is too dangerous for noise. For overseas travel, the State Department has launched the Smart Traveler app with travel warnings, alerts and local embassy contact points in each country. TripWhistle is a traveler’s connection to 911 in 196 countries; it sends GPS coordinates to emergency services and lets you know how close they are to arrival, all with a couple of taps. It can be activated through Apple Watch as well.Personal Botler
Who couldn’t use a personal assistant? Whether you want to find the best deals on a trip to Reykjavik, a new curling iron or the closest optical facility for the glasses you just broke, Mezi has your back. Simply text your request and a bevy of real humans or AI agents will get back to you with a choice of options. The money model is affiliate based but the app’s operators insist it is brand agnostic.A Better Road
Travel managers and business travelers alike will love RoadMap because the app will serve as an angel in a traveler’s pocket. Through the app, the travel manager can be right on the spot if a traveler is in trouble, as well as being there for nearly every step along the way. For travel managers the app presents a broader solution on how to communicate with travelers. The platform can be customized with the feel and touch the employee would expect from their employer. The app can manage the basics: the flights, the hotels and all the other details in between that go into making a trip smooth and faultless. The app keeps the traveler in the system from home and back, door to door, taking the guess work out of the trip. Upon landing, it offers the best ground transport options to the hotel and a list of restaurants to try – even places that fellow colleagues may have liked. A channel links straight to the travel manager for feedback and questions, building a useful repository of travel data for the company.Pocket Pal
Lola is like Kayak for business travelers. In fact, it’s a business travel app created by Kayak founder Paul English, because some 60 percent of the metasearch site’s users turned out to be business travelers. And those users were anxious to chat. Lola’s integration with Sabre allows for honest (not ad-driven) choices and direct bookings. An algorithmically-driven artificial intelligence component presents speedy preferences for travelers, such as hotel pillow styles, air seats, airports, airlines, rewards information, times, connections – and with human agents always on hand via chatware to provide assistance. All data is recorded and stored for future choices. The revenue model is based on a membership platform for upgraded services. Dining Line
Dinova is a company that links corporations, business travelers, restaurants and back office types in a tidy little app that provides plenty of bottom-line boosters all around. The app features more than 14,000 restaurant partners, classified by geo tags, food preferences, prices and other filters. Business travelers are happy – when they choose to dine at a partner dining venue, they are rewarded with loyalty points, rebates and automatic accounting capabilities with every check. Corporations are happy – they get money back for these efforts, even with the discounted menu items Dinova negotiates with restaurant partners. And the bean counters are happy – they get to track an expense that accounts for more than a quarter of a trip tally.Flight Friend
App in the Air is the new BFF for those seeking the comforts of an all-in-one trip app. It started out managing air travel but now allows users to include hotel and car rental details in the itinerary, which it integrates for a complete picture. Flights are organized into cards that hold all the details of the trip in various widgets to reveal timeline, airport and airline info, maps, wait times, delays, mileage and travel times, check-in pages, hotel and car rental information, and more. It presents the trip in a timeline of four segments: Check-in, Boarding, Take-off, and Landing and syncs info with social media, family and colleagues, calendar, even Tripit. Users receive texts for departures, delays, changes, gates, right down to inflight exercise alerts. The money is in the in-app purchases from items such as ad blocking ($.99) to $29 for comfortable operability.Go in the Know
FlightAware lets users track flights in real-time with a tracking map of any commercial flight in the world. Drill down searches by flight numbers and aircraft registration can pull in this information for private planes and charter flights as well. Users get a flight tower effect with the cool NEXRAD radar overlay. Enter a personal flight and get up-to-the-minute information as well as gate changes, delays, cancellations and diversion details, along with push texts for timely matters. The app also shows delays in progress in other airports according to their airport code. Complements a robust online site. Ad supported.Air Care
FlightUpdatePro takes over where the very popular but now deceased FlightTrackPro left off. Developed by Silverware Software, it’s a powerful flight status application that combines with flight scheduling to provide current flight information while allowing searches for other flights schedules. Alerts include delays and layovers, weather, airport information and e-mail integration with Tripit. $9.99.Antidote for Airports
Anyone who has been on a long flight and has to look forward to hours waiting for the next connection knows what finding a comfortable airline lounge can mean. It’s not always possible to fly in the front of the plane and not every airport offers an Admiral’s Club. Lounge Buddy takes away the agony of long waits at crowded airline gates with an easy app that shows what lounges are available nearby, what the access requirements are, the costs, what the lounge offers and where to find it. A shower, a beer, a burger and a cozy snoozing seat may be just up the escalator and around the corner. Revenue model highlights in-app access purchases.Seat Savers
To avoid getting stuck in the middle seat some assistance is available from Seat Alerts by ExpertFlyer, a tool developed by The Points Guy Brian Kelly. The app lets the user set a seat alert to be notified when a more desirable seat opens up on a targeted flight. These alerts are limited to one free alert at a time. Additional alerts will cost $0.99 each. For $4.99/month, users can get alerts as well as get visibility into award/upgrade inventory search and flight availability at different price points. Multiple seat alerts can be sent, but are limited to 250 queries per month. For $9.99/month, there are more flexible search options, unlimited queries, aircraft change alerts and the ability to create flight alerts when inventory opens up.In it for the Long Haul
A long haul survivor in the battle of the travel apps is Tripit (now owned by Concur). It launched in 2006 with a great strategy for road warriors: Put all personal travel information along with current flight agendas and contacts for associate who need to know, and keep them all in one place and accessible by a tap or two. Functionality has only improved since that time and now the app syncs with other apps in a user’s armament to ensure all information management is current and accurate. The app organizes a trip folder with links for tracking flight status, checking seating charts, seeing a map of chosen area and all without a network connection. If you have Gmail, you can set your Tripit preferences to automatically grab travel-related e-mails. Tripit is free. Tripit Pro costs $49/year and adds such benefits as real-time flight alerts, gate change notifications, reward program tracking, monitoring for availability of preferred seats and finding alternative flights if plans suddenly change.SHORT STORIESMarriott, Samsung and LegrandCreate IoT Hotel Room
Marriott International has teamed with technology powerhouses Samsung and Legrand to develop an Internet of Things hotel room. At Marriott’s IoT Guestroom Lab, this "smart" hotel room allows multiple responsive IoT systems, devices and applications to communicate with one another to more efficiently serve guests and optimize hotel operations.The technology would allow customers to enjoy an integrated experience with access to their own data and information, as well as accessible voice and mobile-optimized controls. Such systems would also benefit hotel operations and improve personalized service. Consumers should start to see elements of the technology in hotel rooms within the next five years.Chrome River Adds Invoice Automation
Chrome River, the invoice and expense management company, has unveiled the latest version of its invoice automation tool, Chrome River Invoice. The tool provides a fully mobile solution that allows invoice approvers and accounts payable team members “to easily approve and track the progress of supplier invoices on a mobile phone, tablet or laptop,” according to the company, without the need for a dedicated app. The solution enables organizations to speed up the approval and payment process and offers an invoice management dashboard, which gives accounts payable teams an overview of all invoices from a single screen.Maldives ID Card Is More Than Just an ID Card
The Maldives are known for their pristine beaches and relaxing resorts. Now Maldives Immigration has made getting there and getting around a lot easier with an innovative new identification card: More than a payment card, the "Passport Card" also serves as a national ID card, a driver’s license, a health card and insurance card. Oh, and it can also double as a passport for easy traveling – hence the name. This is the world’s first bank card made of polycarbonate material that can last up to 10 years – more than three times an average bank card. Furthermore it carries a unique dual-interface chip for contactless and contact card reading. The card is certified by the Bank of Maldives as well as by MasterCard, allowing it to be used internationally.Additional security features not found on standard bank cards allow the Passport Card to be used like a regular passport at all border entries to the Maldives, including the new electronic gates. The system was developed by Maldives Immigration, together with technology provider DERMALOG from Germany.Shangri La’s Jen Brand Launches Relay Robots
Hotel Jen has become the first international hotel brand to use autonomous Relay robots in Asia. Teams at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway and Tanglin Singapore welcome colleagues, Jeno and Jena at their respective properties. The duo will deliver guests’ orders for amenities and local favorites from the in-room dining menu.The pair stand almost three feet tall and can move unmanned around the hotel at about half the average speed of a human walking. They can ride the elevators, make phone calls upon arrival and are equipped with sensors to avoid obstacles. Designed and built by San Jose, CA-based Savioke, Relay is the first fully autonomous delivery robot.New Traxo Filter Tool Captures Off-Channel Bookings
Traxo has introduced a new system called Traxo Filter, which captures every off-channel booking without employee involvement or without granting third-party access to a corporate e-mail system. Industry studies show that nearly 40 percent of corporate travel spend is booked out of program, making it invisible to corporate travel managers. According to the company, Traxo Filter is the first product that provides travel managers with comprehensive visibility into their total program spend in real time. Once captured by Filter, all travel bookings are immediately displayed in an online dashboard and the data can then be shared with the company's TMCs, expense management, risk management or business intelligence applications.
Groupize Adds Features, Launches Sports Division
Meeting and event technology provider Groupize has announced the launch two new features. Event Booking Pages allows planners to customize their own dedicated white-labeled event booking page, in addition to offering public, transient or negotiated room block rates, all of which will integrate directly into their agencies’ GDS. With Instant Block, planners can pre-negotiate their blocks. Room block rate codes can be loaded for groups of any size and can be booked in real time. The company has also announced the launch of Groupize Sports, a division that offers an end-to-end proprietary technology platform that automates the entire cycle of sports travel. Groupize licenses its platform to agencies, sport facilities, CVB’s and apps that serve universities, professional teams, youth sports, electronic sports and tournament organizers.TravelClick Expands Partnership With First Hotels Scandinavia
TravelClick, a global provider of cloud-based and data-driven hotel revenue solutions, has announced an expanded partnership with First Hotels, a collection of 57 hotels in Scandinavia and Iceland. Under the agreement, TravelClick will become First Hotel’s exclusive partner for reservations, business intelligence and guest management solutions. Earlier this year, First Hotels became a flagship partner of TravelClick’s Demand360 Business Intelligence program in Scandinavia.Travelport and TTS Sign Global Agreement
Travelport has announced a new global agreement with TTS, a travel technology company. The agreement provides Travelport customers access to the entire TTS product portfolio, including TTS Consolidator, which automates processes between consolidator agencies and subagents, and TTS Corporate, a booking tool.“TTS has worked exclusively with Travelport for the past six years,” Rui Figueiredo, COO of TTS, said. “Building on the success of Travelport Mobile Agent, this global agreement enables Travelport’s customers to benefit from our complete portfolio of solutions that help solve problems that travel agents face every day by using simple and user-friendly technology.”Adelman Partners With Flightsayer
Adelman Travel has announced a partnership with Flightsayer, a flight delay prediction startup, to deliver flight delay predictions to corporate travelers through the Adelman Virtual Assistant mobile app. Flightsayer uses machine learning to analyze data to predict flight delays weeks, days and hours ahead of scheduled departure. The tool was created to change the way travelers think about flight delays, according to Flightsayer CEO Bala Chandran. “Disruptions aren’t an inevitable cost of doing business for corporate travelers,” Chandran said. “They can be quantified and managed much like any other risk.” Adelman’s AVA will now include real-time enhanced flight alerts and flight delay predictions from Flightsayer.NewGen ISS Updates IATA Billing and Settlement Plan
The International Air Transport Association has announced that the Passenger Agency Conference of its member airlines has adopted resolutions giving the go-ahead for the full implementation of the New Generation of IATA Settlement Systems initiative, known as NewGen ISS.
NewGen ISS is the most extensive modernization of the IATA Billing and Settlement Plan since it was created in 1971. The BSP facilitates the global distribution and settlement of funds between travel agents and airlines. Last year, the
PAConf approved the development and introduction of four elements included in NewGen ISS:
• Three levels of travel agent accreditation, allowing agents to choose the model best suited to their business, and to shift across models as their business evolves.
• IATA EasyPay, a voluntary pay-as-you-go secure e-wallet solution for issuance of airline tickets in the BSP that offers a lower cost per transaction.
• Global Default Insurance, an optional financial security alternative to bank guarantees and other types of security.
• Remittance Holding Capacity, a risk management framework to enable safer selling and mitigate losses resulting from travel agency defaults.
Additionally, the resolution incorporates provisions related to Transparency in Payments, a new industry initiative that reveals the different settlement costs associated with each form of payment and agent remittance of airline funds. NewGen ISS and Transparency in Payments will be rolled out progressively beginning in March 2018.