Customer experience has become a key differentiator in many industries and the travel sector is no exception.
Brands such as Airbnb and Uber have been at the forefront of this trend, placing an emphasis on a convenient, reliable user experience to attract loyal customers.
And now corporate travellers are increasingly expecting to receive the same level of service that they experience in their personal lives, according to research from Barclaycard.
The survey found that the use of mobile wallets and invisible payments is expected to grow significantly in the next five years as businesses cater to travellers’ demands to use the type of technology they are familiar with from leisure trips.
Three in ten travel managers (29 per cent) say requests to pay via mobile wallets have increased over the last year, and a quarter (26 per cent) have noted a rise in the number of travellers who want to book their trips on a supplier mobile app.
Digital and mobile wallets are expected to gain further momentum in the future. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of travel buyers anticipate that use of the technology will increase over the next five years, while 58 per cent expect to see an uplift in the use of ‘invisible payments’ – entering card details once into an app for repeat purchasing – over the same period.
According to Helen Hodgkinson, Barclaycard's Channel Manager for Business Travel: “People increasingly want the convenience and efficiency that they get in their personal life to be available when they’re travelling for work. This means that in order to stay relevant, corporate travel suppliers need to look at the payment options they’re offering to customers.”
New digital payment options also assist with another key challenge for the business travel industry – data management. Though there is a huge amount of data available for travel managers, the challenge has always been around bringing it together in one place.
For example, employees often book their corporate travel using a personal credit card or a mobile app, making it difficult for businesses to maintain total visibility on their travel spend.
Barclaycard’s research found that more than four in ten travel decision-makers (43 per cent) are more concerned about their level of control over their business’ travel and entertainment expenses than they were 12 months ago.
“Corporate travel programmes are complicated, made up of many components, with lots of different tech providers in that mix,” said Helen. “Payments can provide a consistent thread through the entire booking process. If you want to gain visibility of spend and rich data from your travel programme, a well thought out payment strategy is the best place to start.”
Virtual cards have helped to revolutionise business travel as they provide an accurate, invisible and secure method of payment. Travel managers can set spend limits as well as date and supplier controls for every transaction, and relevant data is captured for each booking to allow accurate reconciliation.
Barclaycard’s research found that almost four in ten (37 per cent) travel buyers have noted an increase in the use of virtual cards over the past five years.
“The tide has changed on virtual cards,” said Helen. “They’re now more commonly understood and businesses understand how they can drive efficiencies for them. Virtual cards allow 100% reconciliation and provide richer data linked to every single transaction.”
Digital payment methods, such as mobile wallets and virtual cards, enable payments to become the thread that ties each booking into a complete trip. Companies can therefore balance their own need for compliance and control with traveller demands for convenient, invisible payment methods.
Head to our Business Cards Hub to find out more about Barclaycard's range of solutions for business travellers.