Success in business travel is about moving at the speed of change. Discover the changes coming to business travel, including new business travel technologies, trends, and opportunities. Many of these possibilities can be combined into a holistic corporate travel program update.
Business Travel Technology
Managed Travel Apps
Managed travel apps are a type of software that digitizes, centralizes, and in some cases automates the oversight and management of corporate travel programs, including online booking. Travelers and travel managers can use such apps to plan, purchase, and execute the policies of travel programs. Many can be integrated with websites and other software to help track opportunities. Managed travel apps provide an ongoing record of the travel-related activities of individual travelers, managers, and third-party travel management companies (TMCs).
Currency Conversion Apps
The logistics of business travel can be challenging for even the savviest travelers. But new technologies are simplifying one of the most frustrating aspects of international travel: currency exchange. Currency converter apps monitor the day-to-day fluctuations of currencies to make sure you and your employees don’t lose out to unfavorable exchange rates. Reliable free and paid mobile apps are emerging, each with its own unique features to help manage money while abroad.
Digital IDs and Passports
The onset of COVID-19 magnified the need for digital IDs and passports. Safe, secure, and functional, digital vaccination cards provided a glimpse of digital identification’s potential for convenience and identity protection. The same technology is being adapted for national IDs and passports, with major benefits to travelers. Personal documents enhanced with biometric data promise to simplify travel, streamline security procedures, and help ensure lost passports are a thing of the past!
Much has been made of the growing bleisure (combining business and leisure) travel trend and now technology is facilitating this integral part of employee life. Explore and experience locations efficiently with apps that access overviews of sites, activities, and transportation options. Bleisure travelers are typically both pressed for time and digitally savvy. Bleisure travel apps satisfy both. Apps support a variety of languages for seamless international trips.
Digital Airport Guides
Billed as “digital flight companions,” airport apps put flight tracking, airport vouchers, airport maps, and trip modification tools at business travelers’ fingertips.
Everywhere you turn, artificial intelligence is making an impact on business. Business travel is no different. For years, software and apps have used algorithms to stay ahead of travel price fluctuations, whether it be for hotels, flights, or local transportation.
AI will now be integrated into more aspects of managed travel software, giving in-house managers and TMCs more control over travel spend, accurately identifying and even predicting opportunities. These technologies are arriving at just the right time, as travel managers are citing technology as a major pain point in their travel programs. In expert hands, AI could be business travel rocket fuel, more easily controlling excess costs and limiting the negative effects of last-minute travel surprises.
Business Travel Trends
Consumers and employees are demanding more corporate responsibility, especially regarding sustainability and the global environment. If sustainable travel isn’t a concern of your corporate travel program–it should be.
Hybrid and work from home schedules are reducing companies’ carbon footprints, but more can be done to reduce the environmental impact of corporate travel. There are several points within the travel process where sustainability can be a focus. This informative survey on sustainability and business travel states that some companies are looking to TMCs for advice on travel sustainability.
Hotel Travel Perks
Recognizing the benefit to their bottom lines, hotels are working to appeal to corporate travelers with a variety of enticing and creative perks. One of the most common perks is on-property restaurant and food options. Travel insiders know that while it can be fun to explore new destinations, navigating an unfamiliar place or paying delivery fees for a simple sandwich can be a hassle. Many hotels are now offering robust room service options or keeping on-site restaurants open late into the evenings.
Other perks include air purifiers, multimedia lounges, ‘workcation’ spaces, roomier accommodations, and loyalty programs.
Flexible Travel Programs
The backbone of an effective and modern managed travel program is policy. Whether travel is managed directly by the traveler or a separate team, smart policy can be the difference between hitting travel cost targets and paralyzing overruns. However, policies can lack a human touch and inflexible policies can end up alienating your most valuable employees by making your program too inflexible and complex.
Align your policies and budget management strategies with the traveler’s needs and preferences to allow them to creatively design travel itineraries that can also save money. It is becoming more common for business travelers to book unconventional overnight accommodations like short term rentals when hotels don’t make sense. Flexible travel policies should also make room for emerging travel trends like bleisure travel, rapidly becoming a source of employee happiness and retention.
Business travel is nothing if not unpredictable and that unpredictability can be costly. One effective way to mitigate the consequences of unpredictability is corporate travel insurance. Corporate travel insurance has matured into a robust and useful product providing an edge to travel programs. The benefits of corporate travel insurance include:
- Compensation for lost or delayed luggage
- Medical evacuation
- Cancellation protection