Top 8 Business Travel Trends Of 2019

This year business travel will see a series of new additions to where it was left last year- thanks to emerging technologies and changing business-class habits. With the ever-growing demands of the sophisticated business-class, there’s no doubt that the travel industry will use some very ambitious strategies to woo this section. Alliances between corporates and the travel industry will continue to increase, as organizations do their best to accommodate employees in the most budget-travel package, keeping the industry standards in mind. So, without further ado, discussed below are the top trends that will keep the travel sector busy.

Flexible Travel Policies, the New Agenda

Jet lag, canceled flight, bad weather, time-zone changes, uncomfortable journey, and safety concerns are some of the issues that travelers contend with during a journey. Admittedly, there is no sure-shot solution to such problems. However, travel managers always try to come up with measures that can address them to the extent possible. Revising stringent travel policies and rules with a reasonable amount of flexibility and increasing the travel budget as per need - are some of the new improvements to facilitate a comfortable, stress-free, and productive trip for employees.

Business+leisure – Bleisure, the Buzzword

Infusion of an increased number of millennials and Generation-Z workers into the workforce has brought about a marked change in the travel habits and patterns of employees. The new, evolving executives of the business-class have their priorities set. They know how to make the most out of any given situation. Blending business with leisure has become the norm. This generation treats business as a perk rather than as an obligation, especially when the travel destinations are exotic. With the difference between work and personal life blurring day by day, such travel opportunities present employees with options to enjoy while at work by extending their stay. This type of virtual agreement is benefiting both employees and employers, leading to positive outcomes such as increased satisfaction, reduced stress levels, and higher productivity.

Growth of the Competitive Customer Service Sector

Business travels can often be unpredictable. Interferences like weather delays, plan changes, and personal issues are typical. A well-equipped team to provide customer support in such contingencies has become a prime need. Also, digitization has led to increased online booking. Travel managements are facing demands to generate a competitive customer service team to not only resolve issues but also to provide timely assistance. Travel management companies that provide additional facilities going beyond their brief to help customers, see enhancement in their brand value. Now the trend is that customers are more inclined to work with a travel management company that provides ready assistance than with those that don't. Therefore, the travel industry now seems to be entering an exciting phase of sharp growth fueled by the adoption of new and specialized approaches for meeting customer requirements in real-time.

Prioritizing Business Personalization

There's an undefined yet crucial rule for effective business management: if you want more out of your employees, then you have to take care of their well-being. Employees are smart these days. They prefer working with companies that care. Companies that have understood the significance of this rule are now shifting priorities from being budget-centric to wellness-centric, especially when it comes to business travel. This is the best way for them to show they care: making work-related travel as something employees would look forward to. The focus earlier was on identifying ways to save travel costs while still getting the work done which invariably led to employee wellness being overlooked. Consequently, exhaustion coupled with jet lag led to employee health issues. Such apathy towards employee wellness over time, adversely affected business productivity. All of it has now changed completely as present-day managements are well seized of the fact that employee well-being is a business priority. Thus, employees, these days get some much-needed flexibility when it comes to business travel while still being compliant with travel policies. Further, companies enter into tie-ups with hotels that can provide premium packages at the best possible rates. This new approach of tie-ups with various service providers offers added flexibility and a good degree of personalization to employees.

Self-Booking Options to Provide Selection Autonomy

With the availability of many hassle-free online booking options, the tech-savvy business-class wants to have the ease of self-booking their flight and accommodation. They want to make the most of the options they have at their disposal. Moreover, corporate policies have been overhauled to meet the growing needs and varying attitudes of employees who travel. Providing a myriad of self-booking options is another way to meet their needs.

Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Boost Travel Services

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and process automation continue to have a positive impact on the travel industry. Travel management companies are now experimenting with various new ways to benefit from AI technology, primarily to become more customer-centric.

Some AI-driven benefits include:

  • customer-centric chat-bots to quickly resolve customer queries
  • analysis and critical insights into customer requirements and preferences
  • streamlining of services
  • personalized experience optimization during customer stay
Therefore, increased use of AI is predicted to have a definitive impact on the customer service aspect in the travel industry.

In-Person Meetings Continue to Drive the Trend

No matter how flexible a company is with its travel policies, a budget will always be a concern. One of the ways through which management can save on cost-intensive trips is to have client meetings via a video-conference. This could considerably bring down costs besides saving time and sparing the exhaustion of a business trip for employees. However, a video-conference is not as result-driven as an in-person meeting could be in terms of acquiring new clients and winning deals. Statistics have shown how essential in-person meetings are to a business as they also help in maintaining a long-term relationship with clients. Therefore, in-person meetings will hold sway over every other connect with regards to client acquisition and business expansion. It is these in-person meetings that will power further growth of the travel industry.

Increased Use of Travel and Expense Management Tools

Business officials have too many things to take care of when on a corporate trip. On top of this, having to keep track of travel expenses and then getting them reimbursed by submitting all the bills, is asking too much from them. Life could be a lot easier when a company uses a travel and expense management application like TrackEx. It is a cloud-based platform that allows trip planning, quick booking (flight/hotel/car), on-the-go receipts submission, enables timely approvals for payments and quicker reimbursements, and much more. On the other hand, it gives managements full, digital visibility into employee travel spends via analysis and reports besides ensuring policy compliance. Applications like TrackEx will see higher usage as more and more companies recognize their utility.