The first and last mile taken by any business traveller can cause the most stress of all, says Karhoo global head of travel industry partnerships Richard Moseley
Rising anxiety amongst corporate travellers poses a real problem for our industry. More than half of business travel managers responding to a survey published last year reported heightened personal safety concerns amongst travellers. A staggering 83 per cent of 503 women surveyed last year had one or more safety-related concerns or incidents when travelling for work.
While these figures are shocking, they are hardly surprising. It’s no secret business travel is booming with growth set to reach £1.3 trillion by 2022; growth largely driven by moves into new, emerging markets. But these unfamiliar destinations mean in-depth knowledge of local areas is often lacking. In a rapidly shrinking world, maintaining high standards of duty of care has never been more challenging.
Undoubtedly the ground mobility sector has a role to play. Because while great efforts are made to book the right flights and hotel room, the first and final stages of business journeys are often blind spots. And that’s a real problem.
The first and last mile taken by any business traveller can cause the most stress of all. What if a pre-booked taxi doesn’t show up? Or they can’t find the driver? After hours of travelling, the prospect of standing in a taxi rank for hours, regardless of the weather, forced to fight for a cab is far from appealing. And what if the car isn’t safe?
Thankfully, smart technologies have the solution.
The emerging concept of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is shaking up the business travel sector. Just as aggregators like Booking.com and Amadeus transformed the way we book flights and hotels over a decade ago, MaaS platforms are set to unlock door-to-door capability revolutionising how we manage the first and last mile.
By integrating with MaaS platforms, Travel Management Companies (TMCs) and other large travel and leisure providers can manage the entirety of the passenger journey, from the moment they step out their door to arrival at their hotel.
Agents will be able to book a ride in advance, on-demand and on the move, offering complete flexibility to suit the travellers’ needs while providing operators with the ability to track the journey from start to finish. With access to travellers’ location in real-time, companies can now stay informed and mitigate risk, allowing improved response time in case of any emergency.
And it’s not just safety that is set to improve with this technology. With greater oversight that these platforms will bring companies will be able to track expenses much more effectively, a genuine game-changer in enhancing efficiencies.
For many of us, travel is an exciting prospect. Airports inspire daydreams of far-flung horizons and the anticipation of memories to last a lifetime. Hotels spark a sense of luxury. A train ride can be the difference between the daily grind and pastures new. But for almost a third of travellers it is just a part of working life. Last year 8.4 million people travelled to the UK for business. For these corporate travellers the world is their office, plane journeys the commute and hotels just a sleep-over far from family and home. Surely, investing in their safety is paramount.