The way we get from A to B is changing. Fully 16 major categories that make up the travel space identify as new transportation, from kick scooters to space travel offerings—and most of them were founded within the last couple of years. However, it’s not only the way we move from A to B that has changed, it’s also the way we book and organise travel that has seen huge transformation.
Just think about the way you used to plan business trips 10 to 15 years ago; it revolved around physical catalogues, phone calls and travel agents. Now this process has been turned upside down and is fully digitised across all steps of the booking process.
In his panel introduction, Lennart Dobravsky, of Lufthansa’s innovation group, noted that 45 of the most valuable companies in the world belong to the travel and mobility arena, including TripActions.
In light of this, we were delighted for Ariel Cohen, TripActions Co-founder and CEO, to share his thoughts on the future of travel as part of a panel with other leaders in travel and transport tech, Frederick Lalonde, Hopper CEO, and Julian Weselek, Tourlane CEO.
Business travel has now been around for 105 years, and with slow growth or innovation in the industry, TripActions has been focused on dramatically improving the process to make it seamless and frictionless for business travellers. Customers can book a trip in less than six minutes and speak to a travel agent in a chat within 30 seconds. “It’s all about helping the business traveller get their job done by focusing less on the booking experience and the hassle that often follows it,” Ariel explains.
Our platform helps customers drive adoption through unrivalled inventory provided by our wide range of suppliers, from GDS to NDC with airlines like Lufthasna. And additionally, increasing visibility on things that matter like spend, savings and where employees are travelling to be able to fulfill duty of care. “It’s a win win win between traveller, corporate company and the supplier.”
Ariel shared shared three core predictions:
With the level of planning that currently goes into a trip, it’s possible that we will see the buying experience become much more personalised through machine learning.
It’s really not about clicking endlessly until you’ve booked something. The human element needs to be entwined with your process to remove friction. At TripActions we solve this through machine-learning driven booking that surfaces inventory based on traveller profile, past booking behaviour and company policy—with human support available within seconds via chat, phone and email. Aspects like this help you book faster, correctly and with confidence.
Employee wellness on the road is of growing importance and ties into a company’s duty of care responsibilities.
It’s about creating policies that are not just made up of statements like ‘directors fly business and everyone else flies coach’. But creating policies that are more fluid and based around the answers to questions like, how often is this employee making transatlantic flights? Ultimately, companies want their employees to be productive on the road and will continue to increase their focus on ensuring travellers are able to focus on what they need to accomplish while there, refreshed and ready to go.
Business travel is centered around in-person communication because it drives success, not because people like it. With companies striving to help reach Europe’s 2050 carbon neutral goals, it’s important to consider the carbon impact of business travel moving forward. Ariel explains, “At TripActions we introduced a solution that helps our customers generate reports of carbon emissions based on their trips and introduce initiatives that help offset.”
We wanted to produce a product offering that increased emissions visibility for our customers and their travellers, creating pressure from employees and not just the corporation meant both parties are aware of their carbon impact. We are committed to giving customers the tools and insights they need to help them decide on alternatives and take action like carbon offsetting.
Coming from a tech background and a plethora of experience in being a road warrior, Ariel explained the reason he was drawn to the space was because the booking experience didn’t make sense to him. It could take an hour to book the business trip itself, and then another hour to get help.
Venture capitalists were initially reluctant to invest in business travel solutions due to the effort, time and money it takes to build its infrastructure—alongside getting licensed globally or signing agreements with partners. This reluctance is still reflected in the 50% of bookings still being made through travel agents in the global travel industry; however, booking online is the future and it’s here now.
Panelists identified the US and China as leading in the travel market, and opinions explored the correlation between the number of innovators in the space and their market sizes. Germany follows closely, with a great travel tech ecosystem that’s a very open and international space—just some of the reasons why TripActions has plans to expand there. As for China, travel is growing there and will continue to do so which is why we’ve built a strong relationship with Ctrip to help our customers travel without friction.
In terms of how travel will look in ten years time, the panel raised three core ideas. Firstly, there will be more personalisation in your booking experience to the point where the process may even become automated and predictive. Secondly, a mobile experience where there is zero click through and everything is powered by AI and machine learning. Lastly, not only a personalised experience but one that is human and one that is healthy.
Watch the full 40-minute panel discussion here.