Today’s emerging new breed of corporate travelers require something different from the cookie-cutter policies provided to their counterparts of the past. Customizable itineraries, increased choices, and travel policies reflective of individual company culture are just some of the business travel trends coming together to form the kind of people-first dynamic that a growing number of corporations are adopting for their corporate travel program in the coming year.
Allowing for Alternative Lodging and Transportation Options
Corporate travelers of the past were usually put up in generic hotels and provided an expense account that covered taxi services to and from business meetings and other necessary activities. Today’s corporate travel options are far more likely to include lodging alternatives such as Airbnb and are also expanding their transportation options to include Lyft and Uber. As a greater number of Millennials enter the corporate arena, personalized customization options will undoubtedly continue to increase.
Blending Business with Leisure
Another Millennial-driven corporate travel trend is the marriage of business and leisure travel to create a hybrid known affectionately, if unofficially, as bleisure. As its name implies, bleisure combines local experiences with taking care of business. For instance, someone traveling on business to Colorado during the winter may choose to extend their stay through the weekend in order to take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some of the best downhill skiing in the U.S. Travelers visiting a region renowned for its culinary and wine scene may choose to hold business lunches and dinners in establishments featuring locally sourced fare rather than in generic hotel restaurants. As one of the results of this emerging trend, more travel managers and booking software are allowing for simultaneous booking of leisure and corporate travel.
Business travel also has the potential to create stress as well as put a strain on personal lives. Customization options help take the edge off by allowing travelers more control over the situation and the process. Improved traveler satisfaction means streamlined booking processes are replacing their more cumbersome counterparts, technology is making it easier than ever to handle bumps in the road such as last-minute schedule changes and airline delays.
Travel software that prioritizes user preference is becoming increasingly popular as well. ProFILER Express provides a travel management environment in which users enjoy a streamlined experience that integrates user profiles across a variety of systems. This eliminates the time-consuming necessity of creating and using individual profiles for every booking system.
Not exactly in its infancy yet nowhere near being a fully-fledged adult, AI technology might be best described as a very intelligent 8-year old child. It’s popping up everywhere, and the business travel sector is no exception. Expect to see more of amenities such as robot-manned self-service hotel check-ins, luggage delivery, and some room services.
The general consensus among hotel industry professionals, however, is that because hotels are a people-oriented business, artificial intelligence will never completely replace the human touch. Nonetheless, younger travelers who literally grew up with technology as a form of a second language will appreciate the convenience of having 24-hour AI technology at their disposal. As this trend continues to mature, corporate travel managers will develop a stronger sense of when it’s appropriate and even desirable to replace human interaction with automation and when the situation and circumstances call for the human touch.
Authorizer PRO pre-trip authorization software has recently been upgraded to include intuitive AI capabilities, providing an even better user experience. Instead of simply handing out black-and-white trip outcomes, the new system takes gray areas into consideration. For instance, if a specific hotel room is a dollar or two over the approved price point, it won’t be automatically declined the way it would be if the price were several hundred dollars over the line. The new Authorizer AI delivers smarter results and saves businesses time and money on travel management tasks.
A Resurgence of Face-to-Face Business Meetings
Video conferencing was a huge corporate trend that’s still widely represented on today’s corporate landscape, but a growing number of companies have discovered that building business relationships depend highly on face-to-face interactions. This means that business travel will likely increase as more corporations jump on board. Even though technology has almost perfected video conferencing to the extent that it provides an acceptable virtual experience, closing deals and other essential transactions require a personal element that faces on a screen simply can’t provide.
Closely related to employee well-being, motivational travel is meant to provide inspiration and promote creativity. This type of travel combines old-school corporate retreat principles with 21st century values and technology. Traditional corporate retreats were more about team-building and employee bonding than experiencing a new place.
Motivational travel is centered around the travel experience itself as a way to expand individual perspectives and stimulate the senses. Departing from an everyday norm by experiencing a new destination provides an excellent way to shake up intellectual and emotional ruts, and corporations are discovering that this approach results in increased performance and productivity among employees of all levels.
Expect More Personalization Overall
It’s likely that these trends will continue to evolve along with the rapidly changing corporate culture of the 21st century and the Millennial generation takes its place on the global business stage. The continued evolution of New Distribution Capability will allow airliners to provide customers more relevant choices and ancillary service offers. Overall, the future of business travel will likely involve further customization, bleisure travel, and an increased level of regard for overall employee well-being.