Leisure travel has gone through an ease, speed and convenience transformation and the corporate travel industry is poised to follow suit, says Ciara Govern, chief customer officer at travel management company TripActions.
Corporate travel will look to consumer travel for inspiration
Today, travellers expect ease, convenience and instant gratification, along with exceptional customer support when booking their holiday. However, when it comes to business travel, many organisations are still relying on clunky legacy systems which provide a near opposite experience.
In 2020, businesses will need to learn from the seamless processes within consumer travel to fulfil expectations of both travelling employees and enterprise leaders managing travel programs.
This means investing in intuitive mobile experiences, with AI-backed personalised offerings, 24/7 travel agents real-time updates and proactive support from the moment an employee books travel, through to when they return home.
Business or leisure? Bleisure?
The line between business and leisure will continue to blur, as more employees try to make the most of their work trips. This will mean a greater focus on customer experience from TMCs, hotels, and airlines to provide a seamless and frictionless experience for all travellers — regardless of whether they're travelling for work or pleasure.
In fact, research by TripActions shows that 75% of workers see corporate travel as a major perk, with 57% saying they had combined work and leisure during business trips in the past year. The coming year should bring a greater focus on the traveller experience in corporate travel.
Corporate wellbeing in and out of the office
Organisation, like Microsoft and Amazon, are making employees' wellbeing a priority to increase productivity, engagement, and loyalty. As this movement continues to grow in corporate travel, organisations will be updating their travel policies and duty of care administration while thinking of the next steps they can take to ensure employees are healthy while on the road. Early flights, tight schedules, and pressure for results are a seeming constant in business travel. In the next 12 months we'll see more of a focus on what steps organisations can take to ensure employees are looking after themselves as they travel.
Carbon emissions will be at the forefront of minds
There is increased focus on the environmental impact of travel. Carbon-neutral fuel and aircraft solutions were a big focus of the latest Dubai Air Show and even Coldplay has just cancelled its most recent tour, until it can be done in a carbon neutral way. Organisations need to be taking a proactive stance on this as it becomes more of a concern for corporate travellers themselves. In fact, six in 10 employees believe it's important for their companies to offset the carbon of their trips. The search for environmentally responsible options will grow and in 2020 we will see a rise in offset programmes, allowing businesses to give something back to nature while looking for more long-term solutions.
Loyalty programmes are still relevant
When I have to book a flight, loyalty points are always a key factor, and 58% of business travellers say the same thing. With an increased focus on customer experience and personalisation in corporate travel, loyalty will continue to grow and diversify over the next 12 months. Eighty percent of corporate travel decision-makers said they already let people earn loyalty points when booking trips. However, the next steps might be in additional perks, like providing gift cards for local eateries and allowing employees to pick their hotel chain.
As we enter 2020, travel managers should evaluate their current challenges in corporate travel and work towards delivering not only a convenient experience, but an enjoyable one. This movement starts with turning feedback into action, and investing in a platform that is not only loved by employees, but, as a result, fulfils the needs of the organisation. With high employee satisfaction comes adoption of the corporate travel tool which translates to increased spend visibility, control, data and insights to optimise travel programmes, save costs, and fulfil duty of care.
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