The evolution of Business travel

Travel managers and procurement professions in global companies say they will be spending around 52 per cent less money on business travel this year compared to two years ago.

The news is the result of a survey by the Global Business Travel Association this year which showed 90 per cent of respondents felt their budgets would be cut. This is, of course, a result of how the pandemic changed travel plans over the past year and led to the increased adoption of technologies such as Zoom.

Added that, any travel plans must now contain a high degree of flexibility in case of any local lockdowns or cancelled flights. The pandemic has also put more of an emphasis on employee health and well-being, with the result travel managers say this, too, is being built into their plans. Here are some of the key changes being made in the world of corporate travel:

Employee well-being is prioritised

Companies are being more mindful of how their employees feel around returning to the office and travelling to other destinations. As a result, the following are much in evidence:

  • Covid policies. Making use of tracking tools and Covid testing kits.
  • Employee input. More consultation with the employee over whether they feel safe and if a trip is necessary.
  • Workation. This new concept involves employees taking their family along on a trip too.
  • Seamless transactions. Technology being used more for check-in and to pay for accommodation.

Subscription stays

All of the above has resulted in many hotels and other corporate accommodation providers providing subscription stays i.e. where companies pay a set rate for the use of a property or even two or three.

But of course, this is an area where serviced apartments (ie corporate housing) is already out in front. They’ve been doing this for some time now. In addition, not only do they provide all the conveniences of a hotel, but they do it with more flexibility in mind, together with an emphasis on working (i.e. supplying a desk, kitchen and laundry facilities etc).

Still, this is a great time for hotels and other business accommodation providers to be trying out new business models says author of The Membership Economy, Robbie Kellman Baxter @robbiebax: “Changes in consumer behaviour — social distancing leading to reduced travel and increased remote work, for example — create opportunities for new offerings and to establish new habits. Now is a great time for experimentation, since the friction … is low as customers look for new solutions.”

Technology for seamless interactions

Contactless payments came into their own during Covid. They were easy and it meant no ‘germ-sharing.’ Some hotels are using apps for guests to access their rooms, many are opting for digital check-in facilities.

So, the big buzzwords in corporate travel and accommodation for 2021 are:

  • Flexibility. Due to the uncertainty around lockdown restrictions and quarantine regulations etc, flexibility is 100 per cent necessary in business travel today. Whether insurance companies come on board is something else to look at.
  • Digitisation. From booking to paying, interaction through technology rather than touch makes sense in the current climate. And it’s probably here to stay.
  • Safety. Keeping employees Covid-free and feeling reassured.

Make sure your next business trip is safe by booking with us here at InnClusive.