August 7, 2019

7 Travel Trends Explored at GBTA 2019: Part One

Samantha Shankman
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GBTA never fails to impress. The TripActions team spent three days at GBTA, where we had the opportunity to choose from dozens of daily sessions exploring important and challenging topics transforming the travel industry today.

A mainstage panel that included TripActions CEO Ariel Cohen covered disruption on Monday — what one attendee called “the most engaging speech she’s ever heard at GBTA” — and Ilan Twig dove into AI and machine learning on Tuesday morning. TripActions VP of Booking Experience and Supplier Strategy Daniel Finkel also made an appearance on GBTA Broadcast to talk about pain-free travel.

GBTA was buzzing with all things business travel, and we jumped at the chance to learn from some of the industry’s best. Here are learnings from our favorite sessions throughout the week. Check back tomorrow for part two.

Business travel spend is expected to rise — especially in Asia.

Business travel spend hit $1.4 trillion in 2018, according to the 11th annual GBTA Global BTI study shared in an overflowing session titled Outlook for Global Business Travel 2019-2023.

Business travel is expected to grow steadily between three and six percent in the next five years — especially in markets looking for seamless, efficient, mobile booking solutions.

North America accounted for just 25 percent of business travel spend, while Asia Pacific accounted for 42 percent. The largest individual country markets are China, valued at $401 billion, followed by the U.S., Germany, Japan, and the U.K.

AI is transforming the travel management industry.

TripActions co-founder and CTO Ilan Twig spoke about the power and potential of AI in revolutionizing corporate travel booking — from helping travelers save time with personalized search, to helping businesses save money with more effective policy parameters — on Tuesday morning.

Machine learning is changing the way travel managers make decisions, and speakers from PredictX emphasized the importance of data-driven decision making.

“We have a feeling that a lot of people don’t use data to drive their decision making as much as they could,” Simon Carmouche, Director of Product at PredictX, said. “What happens when we don’t use data for rational decision-making? People tend to make decisions on assumptions or emotions.”

We agree.

Solutions like TripActions that include AI-driven personalization take the pressure off travel managers to monitor the exact details of their many travelers’ changing preferences, simplifying management. TripActions’ technology leverages data to continually evolve and better serve travel managers’ teams.

An important element of data quality is minimizing risk, and our team obsesses over data security and ensuring privacy at commonly insecure touchpoints and transactions. It was great to hear the industry discuss this all-important issue together.

AI-powered personalization will forever shift the potential for compliance.

Travel buyers often underestimate the importance of the travel experience from booking to hotels near entertainment and dining.

These were the findings from an online survey of more than 600 travel buyers and 2,500 business travelers in March and April 2019, which sought to uncover what keeps compliance leakage at 40 to 60 percent today.

The research also revealed a disparity in how buyers and travelers rate the importance of personalization and customer support throughout the booking process. Only 50 percent of buyers valued the importance of customization and 24/7 customer support —but 74 percent of travelers and 80 percent of millennials marked it as very important.

“Use solutions that can personalize recommendations while staying in line with policy and program considerations. Enhancing the ease and efficiency of hotel payment can vault compliance to the next level,” the panelists — Peggy Medeiros, travel program integration manager at Siemens Corporation Americas, and Suzanne Neufang, senior vice president of the Americas for enterprise solutions at HRS — concluded.

For us, the travel experience starts with making the booking as efficient as possible. Customer service drives compliance in a self-booking world, which is why our TripActions’ team is available 24/7 and only a chat away.

“Online booking tools can make or break adoption,” concluded the panelists.

Travelers seek customization more than travel buyers realize.

Best Western’s session, What Do Business Travelers Want from Hotel Loyalty Programs?, concluded that business travelers value hotel loyalty programs above all other loyalty programs. But hotel programs can and should go further in customization.

“We live in the age of customization. As we look into the future, we’re going to ask ‘How do I get closer to the traveler? How do I own that traveler journey?’ Customization is what’s driving the industry and loyalty programs,” Mark Frisone, a global account executive from Marriott International, said from the audience.

GBTA was incredible! Thank you to everyone who came by our booth, chatted between sessions, or shared an evening with us in Chicago. Be on the lookout for more insights and learnings from the event through webinars and blogs to come.

We might be headed home — but we’re already preparing for the next big event. Join us at TRAVERSE 19, a travel and tech festival where we’ll discuss the future of business travel, this October in San Francisco.