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The corporate travel industry is evolving every year at a frightening pace thanks to advancements in technology and a fluctuating global economy. These changes have profound impacts on the travel policies of all businesses, small and large.

Here is a list of five current corporate travel industry trends that will determine how you travel for business in 2017.

 

Duty of care and risk management

Travel, especially international travel, brings with it a certain level of risk. From recent disasters such as the Germanwings plane crash in the French Alps and the terrorist attacks in Brussels, to individual incidents such as hospitalisations and robberies, companies are clearly focusing on their risk management procedures. Organisations have a duty of care to their employees, so the implementation of tracking and communication tools will help to alleviate any potential risks. 

 

Investment in technology

Technology is progressing at unprecedented levels, and it is infiltrating the corporate travel industry at every level. Possibilities include: 

  • Wearable technology – Smart watches and RFID tags (Radio Frequency ID) are just two ways corporate travellers can stay connected, track performance and monitor the whereabouts of belongings while on the road.
  • Online booking tools – Companies are going to contain the corporate travel booking, expense and reporting system in a controlled online environment, while providing employees with an easy-to-use platform and the freedom to make personal travel choices.
  • Smartphones, tablets and apps – More searches are performed on tablets and Smartphones than computers, so expect to see any travel related service (e.g. hotels, restaurants, car hire, etc.) invest heavily in app technology.
  • Digital wallets – We’ve just started to see the first glimpses of companies launching technology that allows credit card payments to be made with Smartphones (e.g. American Express and Apple Pay). Again, travel related services are likely to adopt this technology sooner rather than later.

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Business and pleasure 

Once upon a time corporate travelers wanted to spend no longer than necessary when away on business. Now, business travellers are using the opportunity to explore the local area, experience the culture and even invite family along to join them. Bleisure travel (business and leisure) offers employees the opportunity to get their work done while also enjoying some down time and recharging the batteries. According to a global survey of business travellers, 83% find time to get out and explore while on business trips, and 78% see adding personal days on the end as beneficial to the business, such as reducing stress and increasing employee satisfaction.

 

Travel spend reduction

Companies are always looking for ways to reduce costs and 2016 is no different. While a little belt-tightening is happening for most companies, it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be less travel. Instead, companies are getting smarter at reducing the costs associated with corporate travel. Some cost cutting measures include: 

  • Using budget airlines, or moving from business class to economy class.
  • Staying in lower star accommodation.
  • Using online booking tools that streamline the travel booking process, thus improving time efficiency and ensuring clearer transparency on expense claims.
  • Video conferencing where possible instead of travelling for meetings.

 

Research into the sharing economy

The disruption caused by sharing economy services such as Uber and Airbnb has raised the eyebrows of bean counters worldwide. As the new kids on the block, they’ve introduced services that are often cheaper, more efficient and more convenient than traditional service providers (e.g. Uber vs taxis). Existing partnerships with hotels and other travel service providers, plus issues with insurance for employees, means further research needs to be done in this area. But forward thinking companies will explore the sharing economy market as another way to reduce costs and increase productivity. 

These are just a handful of the many corporate travel trends for 2016. Savvy businesses will always explore ways to ensure travel is only organised when necessary, financially viable, organised in a time efficient manner, and safe. These companies will be able to offer a more comfortable, productive and enjoyable travel experience for their employees.

For more information on the trends that are redefining business travel, download your free eGuide, '5 Corporate Travel Trends to Watch in 2017' below:

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