Business travel isn’t fun. As thrilling as it might seem to jet-set for a living, any experienced business traveler will tell you that living in hotels, relying on public transportation and dining in airports gets old, fast. If only there were some kind of revolution that could help business travelers find accommodations, get around new cities and remain connected to the home office…
Oh wait! Technology can do all of these things and more. Here are some of the most innovative tech solutions to help business travelers not just survive but thrive during their grueling business trips around the world.
1. Digital Assistants
In days of yore, businesspeople would outsource the organization of their trips to their real-life assistants, who would book flights, accommodations and cars as well as arrange meetings and meals. While living, breathing assistants haven’t disappeared altogether, they are much rarer than they once were; the popularity of startups and similarly small, tight business groups means that many business travelers don’t have someone to orchestrate their trips — unless they rely on a digital assistant, instead.
Digital assistants are software that can perform tasks or services, usually based on verbal commands. Apple’s Siri was among the first digital assistants, but Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are options that are growing in popularity. Business travelers should consider connecting their digital assistant of choice to their computers, smartphones and other smart technology, so they can command their assistant to make appropriate travel reservations when necessary. Currently, the capability of digital assistants to provide this service is low, but the additional of tech tools, like car rental reservation software accessible by the smart assistant, will improve this functionality in the coming years.
2. Advanced Check-in
There is nothing more irksome in business travel than the check-in process. It’s terribly frustrating standing behind clueless or chatty travelers when all one wants is to wash off the plane or get home for dinner. That’s why business travelers need some kind of advanced check-in process, which allows them to cut the line and get going.
As yet, the best business travelers can do is check in remotely via the internet, but in the coming years, the check-in process could be completely revamped thanks to emerging tech. For instance, frequent travelers might be able to benefit from facial recognition tools driven by machine learning. These tools would use cameras and software to recognize travelers interested in checking in and perform the service automatically, saving everyone time and energy.
Most everyone has heard the term “blockchain,” but most everyone is also uncertain what it means. Blockchain is a system for recording data; it is a digital ledger saved on a peer-to-peer network, making it an incredibly secure method of sharing information. Currently, blockchain is used primarily in the control of cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, but experts see nearly unlimited applications of the tech in coming years.
For business travelers, blockchain offers a true revolution. The tech could offer a more secure way to carry credentials on their trips. Losing a passport while abroad is a terrifying tragedy, but blockchain could completely eliminate the need to carry any kind of personal identification. Perhaps more importantly, it would reduce or eradicate mistakes in the booking and check-in process because records are permanent and unalterable. Plus, because blockchain is stored everywhere, the system would never go down, meaning business travelers would never be stranded. It’s a miraculous solution, but it will likely be some time before we see blockchain applied in a widespread or meaningful way.
4. Wireless Everything
When traveling, no one wants to be tied down — especially not by their tech. Business travelers tend to be especially dependent on technology like mobile computers and smartphones, which connect them to their home office and provide them with the information they need on-the-go, but the need to physically plug technology in for charging, information exchange and more is often bothersome.
Already, business travelers can invest in solutions that reduce their reliance on wires. For instance, one might use a mobile hotspot service to transform a smartphone into a source of wireless internet. Additionally, there are a variety of wireless charging accessories, from mats and pads to docks and stands. A wireless power bank, which can charge technology without any sort of wire or plug, is ideal for the business traveler.
Perhaps the most promising of all travel-related technological advances for business is this one — which eliminates the need to travel altogether. Tele-travel, like tele-conferencing, allows different parties to interact with one another through technology rather than face-to-face. Video meetings are nothing new, but tools like telepresence robots, which allow businesspeople to interact physically in a remote space, could allow business travelers to skip the airport and sleep in their own beds while getting work done abroad.
Technology has already vastly improved the business traveler’s experience, but there is still much more work for tech to do. The coming years should bring some significant changes to travel overall, and business travelers will surely reap the most benefits.