"Mobile Devices” are everywhere
Every one of us experiences this. You sit on public transport and wherever you look, people are staring at their smartphones or pads. Of course, you only see it when you're not looking at your own screen and quickly reading something, checking emails, etc.
I am far from starting a discussion about the sense or nonsense or the sociological consequences of this changed world. I am simply stating that this is the case. This shows that "mobile devices" permeate our everyday life and thus also determine our work to a great extent. At the turn of the millennium (the older ones among us will remember), it was only a few select number of business travellers who worked on the road with Blackberries or PDAs. Today, it is completely unthinkable for business travellers not to work on the road with a laptop, pad and/or smartphone.
This most certainly leads to a compression of work and more stress in some places. At the same time, however, we can provide relief and less stress with intelligent APP's.
“Mobile Working” in travel management
Our blog mainly focuses on the topic of travel management and travel expense report systems. So let's take a look at the topic of "mobile working" in this segment.
Basically, we see four phases in business travel: the planning of the business trip, the booking of the means of travel, the business trip itself and the follow-up, which includes, among other things, the travel expense report. In the next sections, let's look at each phase from the perspective of "mobile working".
Planning the business trip
This phase includes some quite different aspects. For one thing, mobile working has also reduced the need for business travel in the last 1.5 years. This is because we communicate much more frequently from the office, the home office or even on the road via web meetings. On the other hand, in many industries, direct contact with customers or on-site appointments, e.g. for maintenance work on technical equipment, etc., cannot be avoided. They could be suspended or postponed for a while, but must increasingly be resumed.
Whereas in the past this phase only included the coordination of appointments and, if necessary, routes, etc., today daily entry and exit regulations, traffic light systems, etc. must be taken into account. Quarantine rules and the high dynamics have to be reconciled with cancellation agreements and much more.
Of course, business travellers can obtain information about this on their mobile devices at any time. In our view, this should be organised as a travel management service. Whether this is an independent department or part of HR is certainly of secondary importance. There are also service providers to whom such services can be outsourced. Especially for more complex trips, which also lead outside the EU, it can be extremely helpful to get support from specialists.
Booking the means of travel
Here I would like to follow up on the last sentence of the previous section. Of course, today it is very easy for travellers to book means of travel on the go. There are various apps from the DB, the airlines, hotel providers, etc. All this makes it easier for travellers to book their own travel arrangements. However while it is relatively simple to book a 2-day trip from Berlin to Duisburg, for example, the complexity can increase dramatically for a 4-week trip across the Middle East to China or a transatlantic trip.
In addition, the fact that I have to book my means of travel with a multitude of different APPs (flight, hotel, rental car, DB, etc.), compare prices and comply with the company's internal travel guidelines is really annoying.
This is exactly why companies are increasingly using an Online Booking Engine (OBE). The big advantage is obvious. Guidelines are stored or secured via red-amber-green systems and approval workflows and travellers can book different means of travel together and in one "go". A central settlement of all means of travel, booked with the OBE using a company credit card, results in additional advantages later in post-processing and accounting.
This way, it is possible to book 80-85% of all means of transport simply, quickly and digitally (and thus at any time and from any location, i.e. mobile). But the OBE also has its limitations with the highly complex trips outlined above.
Due to the advantages and limitations outlined above, we work in partnership with some OBE providers and also with classic business travel agencies. It gives us the opportunity to advise our clients on how to intelligently combine digital and analogue working.
Mobile working - business travel
This aspect of travel management is certainly one of the major changes brought about by "mobile devices". In the past, travel time was almost completely perceived as "lost time". If necessary, one could still read previously printed documents as preparation, then later with the first mobile phones a few business phone calls were made etc.
Today, business travellers are able to work almost anytime and anywhere. They have access to all documents via cloud services, e-mails are handled while on the road, and if the means of travel allows it (e.g. on the train or plane), they can even take part in a web conference while on the road.
As efficient as all this is, there are definitely some aspects that need to be considered here. One example is safety aspects. Too often I sit on the train next to business travellers whose screens are not secured, so that I could read confidential figures, e-mails etc.
Consider how often have you been "forced" to listen to telephone conversations whose content does not belong in the public domain? There is definitely a need for more awareness, training and, if necessary, technical security measures.
I am sure that this topic alone would fill more than one Bolg article. But we shall concentrate instead on our speciality and so these brief remarks will have to suffice.
Our topic of choice and expertise is travel expense reporting and how you can reduce stress and use mobile working to your advantage. So for this last phase of business travel let us talk about travel expense APPs.
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