The future of business travel management
Last week we looked at the increasing use of chatbots by consumer-facing travel companies. We expect their use to transfer into business travel before too long, but what else has the future got in store for us?
Increasing Use of Non-Traditional Providers
Airbnb seems to be intent on developing a whole new sales model: C2B. According to Forbes magazine, in 2017 over 250,000 companies use Airbnb for business. This is a dramatic rise from the 2015 figures; when only 250 companies travelled with Airbnb. This sharp increase in only two years marks just the beginning of the property rental behemoth’s venture into business travel. Airbnb is building corporate partnerships to maximise booking potential. Of course, anything that gives travellers more choice should be welcomed, but the social problems that are beginning to bite from this short-term letting movement may mean that a more judicial approach to the Airbnb model might not be too far away. Already, several city and national jurisdictions are seeking ways to place limits on the company’s rental operations.
Flexibility Is Key
The blending of business and leisure that is “bleisure” travel might sound old hat now but in reality, those organisations offering their employees the flexible travel arrangements, holidays and benefits that make bleisure possible are still miles ahead of those who are not, in terms of employee satisfaction and retention. Bleisure works because it is greener – cutting holiday travel miles; if you’re traveling there anyway, why not make a holiday of it – and often cheaper for the company – since travellers are more likely to be making at least one of the journey off-peak and may or may not be covering some of the associated expenses themselves too. Forward-thinking travel management companies that can support this flexibility for businesses and travellers deliver advantages to both parties.
Greater Visibility into Expenses
Full-service travel management that combines multiple elements on a single platform, supporting travellers and travel managers with real-time information via the Internet or an app, and minimising the need for additional expenditure make travel management far easier. Businesses are given actionable insights based on traveller spending behaviour that can help to push down the cost of business travel over the short and long term.
More Automation throughout the Traveller Experience
We’re already seeing it. The robot butler. The staff-less front desk and the smartphone check-in. The i-Pad controlled HVAC and room service menus. The huge investment in the Internet of Things (IoT) by major hotel chains and transport providers means that this trend is set to continue. As we’ve already noted, it’s happening with booking engines now.
The Rise of the Machines
As we noted last week, the increasing acceptance by consumers of social media messaging as a customer service and sales channel has given rise to the burgeoning use of chatbots as a customer service and sales tool by a number of consumer-facing travel companies. However, the limitations of AI decision-making limits its effectiveness in complex scenarios and, as yet, hasn’t been adopted by corporate travel management companies. As the technologies develop, and critical data management issues are addressed, we expect their use to creep into the corporate travel sphere eventually.
Here at Travel Counsellors we’re always keen to embrace the new and invest in innovations such as the MyTC travel app for your corporate travellers and our Internet reporting tools for travel managers. However we do believe that there will always be a need for efficient, personalised service tailored to meet the specific needs of your organisation and your travellers. And until a bot can do that, there will always be a need for our team of Travel Counsellors.
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