4 Reasons to Reconsider Mobility When Planning Business Travel

August 16, 2022

Mobility is often defined as how travelers move between points A and B.

But mobility means more than getting between home, the airport, and lodging — it encompasses every mode of transport, from scooters to taxis, said Todd Kaiser, senior vice president of business development at Deem, during our Miles Ahead 2022 virtual conference.

Early on in a planned business trip, people book flights and hotels, along with rental cars. But smaller mobility moments — like getting from the hotel to the conference center, or from a client meeting to lodging — tend to be arranged on the fly.

“While the other facets of corporate travel are well managed already, the ground aspect of mobility has, until now, been notoriously difficult and expensive to wrangle,” said David Grace, president of Deem.

Along with being more expensive, it can be time-consuming and enervating for travelers to arrange ground transportation in unfamiliar destinations where they might not know the safest, more efficient ways to get around.

“There is much discussion about how travelers are making the so-called ‘final mile’ from the terminal or station to their meeting location or hotel,” per the 2022 Global Business Travel Forecast report. Travelers have a lot of options: taxis, ride hail, walking, or public transportation, along with newer options, such as e-Scooters, eBikes, and bike rentals.

Some of those solutions, such as scooters and bikes, aren’t accommodated under travel policies, according to the forecasting report, which predicts a shift in future modes of transportation. That’s our focus at Deem: making all travel an easier, more seamless experience. 

Why mobility matters 

Take a look at four big reasons mobility is such an area of focus for business travelers and for us at Deem: 

1. Wrangling costs

Ride hailing is one of the most expensed categories of travel, according to Emburse Certify, with around 13% of receipts in that category. And, pointed out by Tahnee Perry, vice president of marketing at Deem, 80% of ground travel is booked off platform.

“That's because none of our consumer-grade booking experiences — like the best apps for ride hail, rental cars, or even say public transit — can be easily accessed in today's corporate travel tools,” Perry said.

If you’re running a corporate travel program, the last thing you want is for employees to be forced off your corporate booking tools, creating expenses without any visibility on your end.

What Deem’s doing: We’re aiming to bring all modes of mobility into a single solution: Etta. That way, “travelers will always be in policy and travel managers will get the insight and cost savings to what was once a black hole,” Perry said.

Our first big move: a partnership with Uber.

This does more than provide travelers with a link in Etta to access their Uber app, Nikolaj Koester, head of mobility at Deem, said. “It's an integration where the corporate traveler can both plan and book Uber trips right from inside of the app."

2. Prioritizing safety

When travelers book outside of the corporate platform, it’s not just expenses that become opaque. For travel managers, there's also a lack of visibility into how travelers are getting around.

Duty of care is always essential, but safety needs have shifted during the pandemic. For instance, an early pandemic white paper found that three in five U.K. travel managers were less likely to allow or encourage public transport during the pandemic.

Travel managers are now concerned with ensuring travelers adhere to local pandemic-related guidelines, as well as have awareness about case counts and other safety information at destinations.

What Deem’s doing: During the pandemic, Deem added its award-winning feature: Travel SafetyCheck. Travelers can see health and safety details for flights, hotels, and rental cars at the point of booking along with safety data about the location of their hotel.

Moving back to safety concerns in a more recent launch, we’re proud of our partnership with Uber, which lists safety as its “absolute core value,” according to Susan Anderson, global head of Uber for Business. That includes:

  • Background checks
  • Facial recognition 
  • Features for riders to verify and share their ride 
  • An in-app emergency button 
  • Insurance

“When all mobility modes are being booked in a single interface, travel managers get one real-time source of truth for duty of care,” Perry said.  

3. Emphasizing sustainability

If you’re in the travel industry, sustainability is on your mind.

Or, as Perry put it, “If a company isn't making travel decisions in a way that minimizes its carbon footprint, you can be sure that day is coming.”

Business travel amounts to one-third of all travel, Perry said — that means the decisions made by corporate travel leaders and business travelers can have a significant environmental impact.

With a little nudge, travelers might opt to choose public transit over a black car, ride a scooter to a nearby meeting rather than hailing a cab, opt for an electrical vehicle over a gas-powered one, or simply share a car with a colleague.

What Deem’s doing: “At Deem, we're now building a solution to fix this last broken chain of corporate travel by putting our focus on mobility,” Perry said. In Etta, for instance, it’s easy to opt for a hybrid rental car. And, with the Uber partnership, people can opt for hybrid or fully electric vehicles in cities where the Uber Green program is available. 

4. Putting convenience first

Travel is exhausting — even for road warriors and frequent travelers. Travel programs help manage basic elements, Kaiser noted. “But that only captures a small amount of what travelers actually do and what a modern mobility program entails,” he added.

And that matters. Hustling after a flight lands to get a car, or figuring out after a meeting ends early the best way to get back to a hotel is a big part of what makes travel exhausting for business travelers. The result? A less well-rested, less productive worker.

“When you're busy and meeting clients...every minute matters,” Anderson says.

What Deem’s doing: “Everyone's time is precious,” Perry notes. So with Etta, the goal is frictionless, efficient travel.

To that end: Deem has a newly created team devoted to mobility, Kaiser said.

“This team's mission is to help our customers plug the mobility gaps, understand and manage the costs, and close the loop on duty of care, all while helping our travelers find the best way to get to their destinations,” he said. 

Hear more about Deem's dedication to modern mobility.

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Deem Editorial

The Deem editorial team brings important, informative commentary and data to travel managers and everyone interested in technology and the corporate travel industry.

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