Business travel is a term used to indicate travel that is carried out for doing business with someone else. It includes traveling to another branch of the company, traveling to another location to visit business partners or suppliers, traveling for a business event or conference, etc. The business travel industry provides more than $1 trillion to the global economy. The habits of employees and their expectations related to business travel are evolving.
Let us discuss about business travel management trends. This business travel market is getting more attention from many businesses in the travel industry because the cost is borne by the employer but travelers often spend more money on their travels. According to Certify, businesses spend about 21 percent of their total business travel budget on meals and 13 percent on accommodation.
The advancement of technology and the fluctuations of the global economy have a significant effect on the travel policies of all businesses, large and small. Smartphone has changed the method of searching, booking, and paying for travel. Automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have made it easier and faster than before for business travelers to plan and book trips.
Business travel management trends
Some important business travel management trends are given below.
1. The Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT is the appliances, devices, and other things that can send and receive data by using internet connectivity. Smart energy meters, smart speakers, and smart televisions are examples of IoT devices common in households. The business travelers want the same from hotels. Hotel guests expect IoT devices that enable them to remotely adjust the heating or use voice commands to get information. Also, hotels can offer seamless check-ins, rooms that can be unlocked through a smartphone, and automatic payments.
2. Bleisure Travel
The travel which combines business and leisure activities is called bleisure travel. It is primarily business-driven, but the traveler spends time to see the sights and engage in other leisure activities during their travels. Research indicates that it is growing. In fact, according to Expedia, the trips which extended for leisure purposes is more than 40 percent. According to a report by SAP Conquer, the generation who makes most bleisure travels is millennials. It contains 38 percent of the total people who take pleasure trips.
3. Virtual reality
Virtual reality came into the mainstream in recent years. The travelers expect it to further disrupt the travel industry in the near future. According to the research of the DCC Forum, 79% of business travelers think virtual reality previews to become normal within 10 years. A business traveler is able to use virtual reality previews on the website of the hotel or other booking platforms of the hotel to gain a clearer idea of what your hotel looks like. VR tours are also suitable for showcasing the amenities such as conference or meeting rooms, so travelers will get an idea of size and layout.
The airline industry is very effective in capitalizing on the personalization needs of business travelers. They realized that if these travelers are treated as individuals, they can become regular, loyal and high-value customers. This intention for personalization has spread to other sectors of the travel industry, including hotels. The hotels can utilize data from previous trips to make recommendations and adjustments based on the habits of an individual, their payment methods, services they have used, etc.
5. Healthy Options
It is important to realize that business travelers are needed to travel often. It means that they want to sustain some element of their normal routine, instead of seeing travels as an excuse. So, healthy options need to be provided. Some hotels provide healthy meals in hotel restaurants and healthy snacks in hotel rooms. Also, they provide massage services, outdoor sports facilities, and a gym for doing the workout.
6. Customer experience
A large part of travel management focuses on the customer experience. It is crucial for all businesses related to the travel industry. That includes hotels, restaurants, car rental companies, and airlines. because the customer experience has become a major competitive differentiator than price and product. According to various statistics compiled by Chameleon Collective, 86% of customers are ready to pay more for better customer experience. Also, 84% of companies that gave priority to customer experience reported a growth in revenue.
Impact of covid-19
Global business travel was largely halted during the epidemic. The business people are engaged in meetings through MS teams and Zoom. Covid-19 has affected a few businesses in the travel industry. These include hotels, airlines, cruise lines, resorts, rental car companies, popular tourist attractions, and conference centers. The travel industry is undergoing significant changes. These changes are aimed to prevent a deadly and invisible virus. Some of the changes that we can expect in the world of business travel are given below.
1. Financial fallout
There will be a significant economic downturn in the business world due to covid-19 pandemic. This epidemic has increased uncertainty and risk in the industry. There is a severe decrease in revenues across the travel sector. Numerous hotels, airlines, and travel companies cant withstand the economic effects of the epidemic. It will result in fewer opportunities for business travelers to use the resources they accessed before the covid-19.
2. Companies will implement strict policies
In large businesses with hundreds of employees traveling the world, we can expect strict company policies that enact the exact expectations and processes for employees. Handbooks, videos, training on to keep hygiene, human-to-human interaction, and packing will be revisited.
3. Pricing Changes
The maintenance cost of hotels and airlines be higher. Airlines should sanitize the planes every night between stops. It will increase staff costs, supply, and additional ground time. Also, the hotels should sanitize the rooms after each guest leaves. It will increase the costs and staff time to clean the room. It will result in increased pricing.
4. Reduced service
Domestic journeys are mainly through ground transportation. Governments may close borders and prohibit travel. The available airline services are decreased. The number of hotel rooms available are also decreased. Travelers are worried to travel on planes and stay in hotel rooms until safety is ensured. This will continue until developing a vaccine.
When business travel returns after the epidemic, there will be more stressful than before. If we found a vaccine or cure for covid-19, the hope is that world will slowly return to normal. Despite the desire to undo things, the world will look completely different. Business travel and surrounding industries are likely to adopt new norms. The concern of how to balance the safety, experience, and comfort of employees while traveling will remain for some time.