December 12, 2018

Trend Report: What to Expect From Business Travel in 2019

This is a time of dynamic change in corporate travel. In 2019, the industry appears poised for continuing growth and expansion worldwide. Influential factors include a general climate of optimism and economic stability, a robust international meetings sector, and increasing non-stop flight options. More people are venturing around the globe in pursuit of commercial ambitions than ever before.

Within this expanding business travel sphere, a spirited new road warrior class is emerging. Eager, even impatient, to book their next trip, they are helping create a new mindset and attitude about the value of the corporate travel experience. And emboldened by today’s consumer travel tools and technologies, they are assertively challenging the status quo, both in terms of trip planning and itinerary management. They are even helping to shift the standard corporate rules related to human resources, impacting everything from recruiting and retention to overall job satisfaction and sense of purpose.

Who is this new breed of corporate traveler? What is driving their quest for independence? And how are corporate travel managers and travel suppliers responding? There are a number of overarching themes that are likely to impact the decision making of these stakeholders in the coming year.

First, employee perception of business travel is dramatically shifting. For younger generations especially, the opportunity to travel for work is a job prerequisite. Once hired, they want to travel as much as possible, both for personal empowerment and advancement, and in order to best support the company’s objectives. For them, travel is increasingly synonymous with personal and professional satisfaction.

Yet, many feel that outdated, corporate travel tools and policies are clipping their wings, if not outright grounding their ambitions. Increasingly accustomed to the freedom of mobile apps and sharing economy services like Lyft from their consumer lives, they want the same for their business travel experiences. When forced to then use less flexible corporate tools, they feel yoked.

How to resolve this tension? Is there a middle ground for corporate travel managers to give employees the traction and freedom they seek while adhering to necessary and important budgetary, compliance, insurance and duty of care considerations?

From employee-first company travel policies to the CFO's evolving role as a business travel decision-maker, our latest report, published with Skift, predicts ten corporate travel trends that we believe will continue to shape this new reality in 2019. It also emphasizes the best path for organizations to follow as they attempt to evolve their corporate travel management standards to meet the demands and expectations of tomorrow’s road warrior while reliably meeting business requirements and standards.

Ultimately it starts with adopting a fresh “people-first” perspective on business travel, one that puts the overall well being and satisfaction of the employee ahead of policy and program considerations.