IGo Anywhere commercial director Paul Wait calls for cross-sector collaboration

The clamour for a corporate travel killer app – one that will remove headaches and make life simple – is growing.

Travellers crave convenience. They want to see a full range of options, make bookings easily and have purchases recorded. Travel managers want the same tool to help control costs, offer oversight and reduce back-office admin.

We all know what we want, so why doesn’t a comprehensive solution already exist? Well, as tantalising as this business utopia is, offering this degree of versatility and visibility in what is a deeply fragmented market is a complex proposition.

It will require us to bring booking platforms, designed for booking hotels and flights, together with a mobility as a service (MaaS) solution that will allow travellers to compare ground transportation choices – taxi, car rental or rail. This then needs to be combined with purchasing and expense management systems.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no shortage of technology companies looking to fill this space. But in such a diverse ecosystem it’s unlikely anyone is going to provide all the answers independently.

If they want to facilitate the ‘one-stop-shop’ answer we all desire, they will need to collaborate with other providers.

This will involve separate companies which have traditionally operated in distinct sectors working together. These partnerships will include hospitality groups, airline companies, private hire firms, rental businesses, public transport providers, etc.

We are already seeing progress here, with many of these sectors forming partnerships at some level. But we’re still a long way from a truly seamless solution for travellers, one that offers a full range of options and removes all business travel headaches.

Take the last mile of travel. When you arrive in a new location and just want to get to your hotel or business meeting in a hassle-free way, how easy is it to choose the best transport option – taxi, rental car or public transport?

Can you instantly evaluate the most practical choice, including cost and time considerations? It’s certainly not as easy as it could be.

There are individual sector-based apps that offer solutions, and, in theory, these could be brought together and integrated with a third-party facilitator.

But we’ll need to go further than what is available now as even the best known of these apps are struggling to provide a comprehensive answer for their own sector.

For instance, the largest ride-hailing app operating in the UK covers just 26 towns and cities. That is nowhere near good enough. We need a solution that covers all locations, not just selected urban centres.

This highlights the need for a much broader range of collaborations.

Resolving this challenge may seem complicated. But when people have a shared goal, anything is possible. The incentive is clear. The business travel sector is crying out for a solution that offers this kind of consolidation.

In a recent study by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and American Express Global Business Travel, four out of five business respondents agreed it’s ‘important all booking channels are integrated’ – with 41% saying ‘extremely important.’

To make this happen we need to be open to collaboration. There will be barriers in the way, but the direction of travel is clear and with cross-sector support the obstacles are surmountable.