Six Factors That Are Changing Business Travel

Business travel is currently in an era of unprecedented change, and here are six factors driving it:

1. Millennial expectations

“Within the next five to ten years, the millennial generation’s expectations of business travel are expected to rise as they enter the peak of their earning and spending potential,” writes Shep. “Millennials are tech-savvy, socially minded, and all about proper accommodation. According to the Boston Consulting Group, they will account for close to 50 percent of business travel spending by 2020.”

2. Better traveler technology

According to Nancy Hang at SAP Concur, almost 50 percent of business travelers currently take between 30 minutes and one hour out of their day to complete travel expenses, while 18 percent spend between one and two hours. However: “We believe that, in the next year, technology – such as bots and machine learning – will tremendously improve employee productivity,” she writes. She cites as examples anticipatory searches based on calendar information, pre-request approval based on historical information, and automatic classification of business vs. leisure expenses for trips involving both components.  

3. A dangerous world  

“As organizations realize the duty of care that they have for their employees, the implementation of effective tracking and communication tools that can monitor how global events and incidents are impacting their employees is no longer an option,” writes Nick Evered at Teplis. “A comprehensive travel risk management program that goes beyond just flight and accommodation booking is something that more organizations will have to look into. These programs will need to work proactively and reactively from providing pre-travel advisories to sending real-time alerts and providing employees with the tools to communicate in times of emergency.”

4. The rise of “bleisure”

“Generation Z is now starting to enter the workforce, and much like the previous Millennial generation, they’re very interested in blending business and leisure travel,” writes IntelligentHQ. “Businesses can think about this as they’re updating travel policies. Employees might appreciate the opportunity to take a local cooking class as part of their team-building, rather than sitting in a traditional meeting room, for example.”

5. Smarter management tools

New tools that combine AI-driven personalization, integrated expense management, and data-driven insights will give more control to employers overseeing travel, writes Skift. As example, they cite Travelstop, a new travel management platform, and cite its use when several employees are heading to the same conference. The application will examine historic booking trends to identify the ideal flight for all the travelers. In addition, it will track costs for flights, hotels, and expenses. And it will provide managers with the total cost of the trip, which they can weigh against the business value of sending the team.

6. The flexibility of Airbnb

“There’s no denying that Airbnb has changed the way people travel,” writes Mike Volpe at Lola. “Cost savings, more local flavor, and a more personalized experience are just a few of the reasons leisure travelers are opting to rent a home rather than a hotel room. And why shouldn’t these same preferences extend to business travel? In fact, they do. According to Forbes, the popularity of Airbnb for business travel has skyrocketed, and it’s still climbing. Airbnbs often offer more flexibility than hotels — think longer check-in windows and the ability to house an entire team — and the company is embracing this mentality in its marketing and product feature set.”