The business travel ecosystem is the midst of an evolution.
The corporate travel industry is rapidly changing, with a breadth of innovation bringing new technologies and platforms to the table. Travel policy makers are well positioned to build programs that minimize costs through increased visibility and control as well as provide business travelers with the experience and support they’ve always sought.
Despite this positive advancement, it remains delicate and difficult work to balance employees’ expectations and habits, corporate goals, and global socio-economic changes. The policy makers tasked with designing, implementing and adjusting corporate travel programs today must consider the ever-changing factors that have an enormous impact on the efficiency and efficacy of their corporate travel efforts.
Corporate travel news sources suggest that business travel spend is strong and will continue to grow. GBTA predicted that worldwide business travel would reach $1.7 trillion globally by 2022. Pricing trends for flights, hotels, and rental cars worldwide also suggest strong growth through 2019 and 2020.
Despite a healthy economic outlook, corporate travel policy makers must be aware of socio-economic and political shifts that could impact where there business travelers are going and when.
Consumerization refers to a growing desire among road warriors to use digital booking and trip management tools for their work trips that provide the same level of ease, convenience, and instant gratification as the tools they might use to plan their leisure trips.
The demand for easy-to-use tools for work trips is increasing the success of traveler-first platforms like ours, which offer employees access to the same user-friendly booking tools they’ve come to expect when planning personal trips.
As business travelers seek a booking and support experience similar to the one they enjoy in their personal lives, they also want to use the newer services that they’re accustomed to using during business travel too.
Traditional corporate travel players like the rental car industry are experimenting with new ride-hailing services targeted at business travelers at the same time that rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber continue to be among the most expensed brands by business travelers. Sharing economy heavyweights like Airbnb are pushing further into the corporate travel space, launching new tools and services designed to appeal to corporate travelers and travel managers.
Forward-thinking corporate travel policy makers recognize these market shifts and ensure that their policies allow business travelers to make the choices and use the services that are best suited to their productivity and ease of travel.
A growing body of research confirms that business travelers will simply disregard or ignore their companies’ travel policy rules if they are not designed to maximize convenience and minimize traveler stress. This is why inclusion of the above services and choosing a platform that mimics the experience of a consumer app is important. But it also impacts what business travelers do once they get on the plane.
The rise of bleisure travel, referring to business trips that integrate additional travel days for leisure activities, is also growing. One recent study cited by Skift found that 60 percent of business trips include a leisure component. Our team recently shared their favorite bleisure experiences and it is evident that this trend will only continue to grow.
New technological advances such as the airline industry’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) is providing travel suppliers with greater control over how they price, merchandise, and market their products to business travelers. This distribution change is also having a big impact on how business travelers, distributors, and corporate travel buyers make decisions about which “ancillaries” (add-on products and services) are selected for work trips.
TripActions, for instance, is one example of how the business travel ecosystem is integrating these NDC capabilities, opting for direct connection partnerships with travel suppliers in order to more easily and clearly display different fare and trip options to business travelers.
Travel management companies (TMCs) are becoming as a key connection node linking together enterprises, suppliers, and business travelers.
Given all these shifts, how should corporate travel decision-makers adjust and build their programs to best empower employees and their company’s growth?
We explore that and more in the new report The State of Business Travel 2020 presented by Skift and TripActions. Download today.