The words “business trip” used to strike fear in the hearts of everyone from CEOs, to traveling salesmen, to the husbands and wives they left behind. Employees’ absences interrupted daily operations in the office, home lives were affected, and basic tasks incurred major headaches. It’s easy to joke about how reliant we’ve become on our technology and to ironically believe that anything pre-smartphone is ancient history, but business travel has been revolutionized by laptops and smartphones.
From checking in to flights, to scanning boarding passes, to grabbing the keys for the rental car, major travel brands have built apps that streamline unavoidable travel processes. Better still, Apple and Android have both built catch-all apps that quickly pull up pertinent documents on the day of travel, so there’s no frantic scrambling and waiting for your boarding pass to load on one of five airline apps as the line grows behind you. Paper tickets lack the ability to adapt to gate changes, delays, and last-minute changes in itinerary, not to mention their one-time use of paper products. Digital ticketing saves trees, prevents confusion, and eliminates the need to wait in line for tickets, which can save valuable time, since seasoned business travelers rarely have bags to check, anyway.
There was a time when “work from home” was a buzzword for those blessed with a spare bedroom, a scanner, a fax machine, and a desk computer. Now, with advanced scanner and signature apps, ultra-powerful tablets, and Wi-Fi enabled airplanes, there’s virtually no downtime. That means less wasted time, fewer late hours, less time playing catch-up for the travelers, and less lost connectivity for those left at the office with questions. It also means a new generation of digital nomads is free to work while seeing the world or freelancing from home while raising a family. Whether sitting in the window seat on a flight to Thailand or sitting in the breakfast nook at home, it’s possible to accomplish virtually everything that used to require a fully equipped office or business center.
As travelers become accustomed to amenities in airports and cafes, hotels are changing the way they apply technology. Hotel apps allow guests to order room service with the push of a button, even before they arrive back at their rooms. They can also use beacon technology to help concierges greet guests by name and offer personalized recommendations and accommodations, services previously reserved for hyper-luxury properties. Whether traveling for business, pleasure, or both, hotels that simplify experiences are a welcome gift for weary road warriors or restless R&R seekers. With technology enabling unprecedented personalization, more expansive rewards programs, and properties that better meet their guests’ needs, hotel apps promise to be another version of big data done right.
Technology has solved many of the traditional problems associated with business travel. It also has helped frequent flyers feel closer to home and the families they leave behind. Important moments at home and out of town can be shared in real time with Skype and FaceTime. Saving employees and businesses time and money is valuable, but bringing families closer even when they can’t be together is priceless.
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