Many of you may be too old to remember the old Bob Dylan song ‘The times they are a changing,’ but the title says it all and the essence of it will endure forever. One thing is certain is that there will always be change and the travel industry, with its many technological advances, has been almost turned on its head from time to time over the last few years.
As you may have by now gathered, I read many articles that are industry-related, and I read with great interest recently about many new start-up business travel businesses that are being favoured by corporates, because they are focusing mainly on the employee rather than company administrators.
One such start-up is USA company TravelBank, who’s CEO and co-founder Duke Chung says “All of our incumbent competitors have built these marketplaces designed to empower only the administrators and to add on functionality for the administrators, but in today’s era, the traveller’s benefits and experiences are of equal or maybe even higher priority.”
The idea is to “aim to make the booking process for corporate travel feel as seamless as that of leisure travel and winning over employees who are reluctant to use the clunky, old-fashioned tools of legacy companies!”
Traveller benefits above the system
The traveller is having a great influence on business travel and influencing company sway as to how they should be doing business in the future. One perfect example is the massive rise in popularity (and seen as one of the growing trends for 2020) of Bliesure travel, which I wrote on some time ago.
Forward-thinking companies are upgrading expense systems to give individual travellers the advantage of adding additional days to their business trips so that they can combine business with time to explore or spend time with their families.
Stress is a factor too and adding a few nights onto a business trip can make it feel less hectic – something apparently now greatly favoured by many younger travellers. Large corporates are starting to consider this individual traveller focus as they are aware of burn out. Business travel really can take its toll.
Some other innovative ideas
There are other great new apps and tools too that some of these start-ups are introducing that really appeal to the traveller. Imagine that as you travel you can arrange dog sitting while you’re already away or have a secure identity tool which has been designed to make your travel through airport security faster?
One example is ‘Skyroam‘ which is a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, and the start-ups have partnered with ride-sharing companies and many more.
Where’s it leading?
I’m not surprised that this is a growing trend as I believe I have always favoured the individual traveller and developing solutions to enhance the individual traveller experience as much as possible. Will these start-ups offering this different approach be able to topple the established larger TMCs though?
Well, they are not yet making great inroads to the business of the international giants. Still, I have always believed that if you ignore change, however insignificant it may initially be, it might be at your peril.
One thing that large TMCs should never do is fail to recognise the changes in attitudes amongst travellers and the influences they are having on corporate travel. Some did this when technologies started to change the industry, and they suffered for it years later.
As with everything different or innovative, let’s examine it, assess it and decide whether we need to embrace it, but never ignore it! After all, in corporate travel, as in many other industries, the times they are a changing!LIDIA FOLLI
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER