The ACTE Column: The mobile generation

How will the travel industry keep up with new mobile booking channels?

In a recent research study, students from 10 countries, including 150 from Bournemouth University in the UK, spent 24 hours banned from using mobile phones, the internet and TV. They were allowed to use landlines and read books, and were asked to keep a diary of the emotions they experienced.

One in five reported feelings of withdrawal akin to addiction; 19 per cent reported feelings of distress; 11 per cent said they were confused or felt a failure; and 11 per cent said they felt isolated. Lead researcher of the University of Maryland study, Susan Moeller, said: "Technology provides the network for young people of today and they have spent their entire lives being plugged in. Some said they wanted to go without technology for a while but couldn't as they could be ostracised by their friends."

One student became a 'media bulimic', starved of information, followed by a 'full on binge'. Understanding needs, behaviour and emotional drivers is the key to creating a programme that will achieve goals and objectives. So we know the Generation Y traveller needs constant reassurance and we know they use peer group information to form decisions.

We also know that Generation Y likes their success and status to be publicly recognised.

Progressive corporations will accommodate this generational change by incorporating peer reviews and reward schemes to help meet corporate travel objectives. If you give people a voice, they have a stake in the success of the initiative. If you acknowledge good citizenship you will generate aspirational behaviour, creating a culture where others will want to be acknowledged for their success, too.

Over the last decade, home and remote working has proliferated. People can generally be trusted to work diligently, regardless of their environment. They will intuitively 'do the right thing', even when given the freedom of choice. So is control over booking avenues really so important if you can find a way to get the data to monitor category spend and the whereabouts of your people?

A plethora of leisure travel focused apps already enable travellers to source and book flights, hotels, restaurants and attractions, but leisure booking channels can't enforce policy or keep track of employee whereabouts. Nor can they rebook a delayed flight or find an alternative hotel. The Generation Y business traveller needs a mobile guardian angel to rescue them from a life of isolation on the road and provide 24/7 support.

If a travel management company can find a way to aggregate information for direct connect reservations, regardless of booking avenues, they will be able to add value and be able to provide round-the-clock support to all travellers, resolving a problem currently challenging the corporate buyer. And once they can solve that problem, the data will be available, too.

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