What measures are your travelers taking to protect themselves on the road?
From face masks to hand sanitizers, personal protection equipment (PPE) is becoming second nature to today’s road warriors. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a shift in how travel buyers and suppliers prioritize the health of employees on-the-go, and the convergence of safety and technology is creating a secondary form of PPE-like tools for the digital sphere.
Touchless technology is the result of this convergence, providing not only an added safety net for travelers but also streamlining the travel process for a more efficient journey. Here are a few of the digital tools and mobile apps travelers should integrate into their business trips to minimize touchpoints and stay one step ahead of disruptions.
Before You Go
As part of the travel process, consider what technologies and programs you will need to plan for in advance. Employees who frequently travel should consult their organization’s travel policy to determine if becoming a member of Trusted Traveler program is a reimbursable expense. In addition to saving time at the airport, these programs reduce touchpoints throughout the security check process. For example, TSA Precheck members do not need to remove items from their bags for screenings, and CLEAR relies exclusively on biometrics to identity travelers, using facial and eye recognition software.
Take the time to inventory payment methods and migrate to a digital system. Many banks now offer cards with RFID chips, which store and transmit information at point of sale with minimal contact. Travel managers and CFOs should consider upgrading their businesses corporate credit cards to RFID, and employees operating on a reimbursable basis should reach out to their financial institutions to see if RFID is available for their personal cards.
To eliminate physical payment altogether, virtual payment cards offer a secure and hassle-free method. While a virtual payment card system may take longer for your organization to implement, it provides a long-term and future-forward solution for travelers and travel managers alike.
On the Go
Although it’s best to plan ahead and download all of your mobile apps before you hit the road, there are no shortage of options to quickly access at a moment’s notice. Travelers can download their organization’s preferred supplier apps for booking, e-ticketing, and mobile check-ins.
When flying, many airline apps provide travelers with mobile boarding passes, digital receipt options, and even the ability to pre-order in-flight meals and purchase food and beverages using a stored payment method. At the hotel, mobile tech provides for a streamlined check-in experience, allowing guests to choose their preferred room, floor location, and number of beds. In many cases, guests can also obtain a digital key and avoid visiting the front desk. Other touchless services often available include requests for in-room dining and concierge services.
Your Travel Management Company’s (TMC) mobile app can serve as a further resource for managing travel virtually. Direct Travel’s Direct2U mobile app allows users to access and monitor their travel itinerary on the road, which includes flight status alerts, destination intelligence, and safety and security check-in features. Additionally, travel managers can use Direct Messaging to send itinerary reminders and notify travelers of critical destination alerts.
Beyond the travel sphere, travelers should also be aware of the digital tools available to consumers at large. While it is rapidly becoming common practice for restaurants to offer digital menus accessible via a QR code or website link, many restaurants and stores also offer mobile apps that provide e-payment and curbside pick-up options, including rewards for shopping on the app. Food delivery services offer another way to dine out without having to stray far from the hotel room.
The touchless experience is continuing to evolve as technology and travel converge to provide a solution for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Mobile apps will likely further grow in popularity, with features added that provide greater convenience and safety for the traveler. Our most recent traveler report shows that many of these changes are currently in the process of happening.
Prior to the pandemic, Delta had already opened the US’s first biometric terminal in Atlanta. Other airports are using robots for cleaning and relying on thermal technology for health screenings, a few of the many growing tech trends. On the lodging front, suppliers are aggressively rolling out a wider swath of voice-command devices to minimize touchpoints throughout the hotel room, eliminating the need for light switches and remote controls.
These developments in technology will make travel safer and easier, but only if travelers have access to the proper tools and understand how to utilize them. Direct Travel can help you navigate through these ongoing changes to ensure your organization is keeping up with the technology available. Contact us to learn more about creating a streamlined, touchless journey for your travelers.