Travel has always been, and will always be, crucial for business. It’s a catalyst for important networking, powerful market expansions, and vital deal closures.
But let’s take a step back. It's not just about packing your bag and boarding your flight. The very essence of business travel is always evolving, and is heavily influenced by emerging tech, fresh perspectives, and a heightened focus on safety (thanks, pandemic!).
Although corporate travel undoubtedly slowed down over the course of the last three years, the Global Business Travel Association predicts a surge in travel bookings and expenditure in 2023 and beyond. Because of this, being on top of the industry trends is more important than ever if you want to make the most of your travel budget.
So, whether you're a seasoned traveller or an insight-hungry travel manager, allow this guide to escort you through the latest, and most important, emerging business travel trends. Firstly…
As you might have already guessed, “Bleisure” is a mash-up of the words “business” and “leisure”. Now, blending business with a dash of leisure during work trips might seem like a distraction from the task at hand. But think of it as a rejuvenating pause for your team instead.
Travel can be exhausting; allowing your employees a moment to explore and relax in a new place isn’t just a treat, but a way for them to recharge. By embracing the concept of "bleisure" travel, you're not only recognising your team’s need for a break but also ensuring they return to their business revitalised and ready to get the job done in the best way possible. It's a win-win, really.
“Bleisure travellers list their favourite elements of business travel as exploring new destinations (70%), making new connections (58%), having a change of work environment (57%) and having new experiences (55%)” – Visit Anaheim
2. The more, the merrier
Group business travel is making quite the comeback in 2023. More and more companies — having previously embraced remote or hybrid models — are missing that invaluable face-to-face collaboration and real human connection.
So, what's the solution? Gathering the team together for brainstorming sessions, goal-setting workshops, and perhaps most importantly, teambuilding experiences.
If your office space isn’t seeing as much foot traffic as it used to, you might want to consider using the funds saved there to pave the way for productive company retreats, engaging conferences, and memorable live events.
3. Tech is paramount
The integration of AI in corporate travel is reshaping the user experience, with many vendors making use of AI-powered chatbots to provide real-time assistance to travellers on the go.
But beyond AI, the real power lies in data. More and more, companies are beginning to utilise advanced data analytics to provide travellers with more personalised experiences. User data allows organisations to understand individual preferences, meaning tailored travel options.
This not only enhances the travel experience but also increases compliance with corporate travel policies.
4. Safety first
We can’t talk about emerging trends without mentioning the pandemic, of course. COVID-19 brought about a seismic shift in how companies view the health and safety of their travelling employees.
What used to be fairly standard procedure has now transformed into a comprehensive strategy. Many companies have begun investing in real-time risk assessment tools, making it easier to keep tabs on many travellers at once while simultaneously tracking emerging threats that might put them at risk.
On top of that, partnerships with healthcare providers to offer telemedicine services for travelling employees are becoming more common. The emphasis is clear: employee health and safety are of the utmost importance.
“41% of business travellers surveyed for our 2023 Employee Safety Report say their employer has never informed them of potential safety risks at their destination.” – Alert Media
5. Going green
Remember the days when sustainable business travel simply meant taking fewer trips in the hopes of letting the planet breathe a little easier? Well, times have changed, and sustainability isn't just a cute buzzword anymore — it’s an actual objective.
Despite the economic slowdown, the world’s passion for sustainable practices hasn't dimmed. What once seemed like a checkbox reserved for only the biggest players has now become a heartfelt mission for companies of all sizes.
Some examples of these sustainable practices include hiring electric vehicles, sourcing from suppliers with strong CSR/ESG initiatives, and using hotels or airlines that offer locally sourced produce and a lower carbon footprint.
In fact, new tools have emerged that allow travel managers and employees to calculate the estimated carbon emissions of flights so they can choose one with lesser impact.
So, while we gear up for more face-to-face conferences, let's keep championing for a greener tomorrow, one journey at a time.
6. More rewards
While business travel hasn't quite bounced back to its pre-2020 glory, there's an unanticipated perk we can all look forward to: vendors are rolling out the red carpet with enticing rewards, cash back, and points in the hopes of getting more travellers onboard.
So, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for these offers. By embracing them, you can stretch your travel budget stretches even further, and give your team more bang for your buck.
7. All-in-one platforms
This is perhaps the most important trend of the lot. In our post-pandemic world, there’s an increasing demand for integrated travel solutions that can provide end-to-end solutions for travellers and travel managers alike. There are also higher expectations for accountability on where budgets are being spent and ROI achieved.
All-in-one solutions can allow companies to track and analyse spending patterns far more efficiently than ever before, meaning better control of company spend and improved policy adherence amongst team members. Having one touchpoint for all business travel related expenses, itineraries, and documents is no longer a nice-to-have… it’s a must-have!
If you’re looking for an all-in-one travel management platform that offers all the above and more, get in touch with us for a free consultation. We’ll create the perfect strategy to cater to your organisation’s specific requirements.