Recent travel trends and stats suggest that business travel has evolved post Covid-19. There are no surprises in terms of the average travel spend and average travel frequency. However, it’s quite interesting to see that the profile of travelers largely included technology travelers (26%), followed by healthcare (10%), according to a media group.
After going through a rough patch during Covid-19, travel is gradually coming back and is expected to witness a 21% increase, according to Reuters, in total volumes.
If you notice, the technology labor force in your organization will predominantly be made up of millennials and GenZ (Mill-GenZ). This means that this is the same labor force which will be doing most of the travelling, of the 26% tech travelers in 2022 as mentioned by Expedia. This is a major shift in how travel will be done going forward as their expectation are different than the previous traveler profiles.
Most experts believe that the Mill-GenZ labor force will look at the following factors when they are required to travel on business:
- Combine business with leisure
- Would be more exploratory in terms of accommodations
- OTA (Online Travel Agencies) driven for self-service process
- Friendly travel policies
- Technology driven – AI, VR, Metaverse, and Blockchain
- What’s in it for me?
The travel industry needs to invest more on incentivizing travel for the Mill-GenZ labor force since 43% travelers are expecting to travel less going forward owing to several technology advancements. Following are a few ways to do this:
- Flexible travel policies must be adopted to accommodate Bleisure trips more frequently. OTAs can provide Bleisure itineraries to facilitate this change.
- OTAs can provide more home-like accommodation, by getting small boutique hotels and home rentals which are safe and cost effective. This will also enable their access to leisure activities which they had planned for. Safety is always a concern and corporates should focus on these when they make various concessions.
- Mill-GenZ don’t prefer to go via the OTA route, as they want to be able to most of the planning themselves. OTAs are however the way to go, for corporates, or any business travel going forward. According to projections from Reuters, around $1.4 trillion would be spent on business travel by 2024. This day is not far away, so it will be well worth the investment for OTAs.
- Mill-GenZ would mostly prefer making direct bookings to save on costs. In fact, according to Expedia, 47% of this population prefer going direct. However, corporates need to look at a wide range of aspects and compliance regulations for its employees, even if it means that they have to spend a little extra. Young business travelers must also understand the intent behind corporate travel policies , and why it is important to adhere to them.
- Based on various studies and data collected by Travel Solution companies, we know that 39% of all hotel bookings and 22% air bookings are done by handheld devices currently, and it is going to increase with the change in traveler profiles going forward.
- Dissemination of real-time information on travel itineraries for the traveler, and safety information of the employees to corporates is going to be critical. Technologies like Destination by Sabre’s GetThere platform and Trip disruption by CWT helps corporates mitigate challenges early in the travel plan creation stage.
Biometrics-based technologies is now focusing on helping travelers in moving faster around the airports and that would be an added advantage for the Online Travel Agencies (OTA), if they integrate such solutions early on during the booking process, to verify customer information.
- The rise of Artificial Intelligence, Virtual reality, Metaverse and Blockchain is a big boon for Mill-GenZ travelers, since they prefer to experience a destination/location before they travel there. Using technologies like Blockchain to help provide real-time information on baggage and travel checkpoints, would be an icing on the cake for corporate travelers.
- Incentivizing business travelers post Covid-19 is very important. From the employee perspective, it will allow them to network more and thereby be more productive. From the corporate’s perspective, it will help fortify their relationship with the customer and also enable in reputation building. In addition to this, it also helps in employee retention and overall business growth.
Based on recent data, the emerging business travel destination is Asia. Countries like India are seeing more business travel coming their way and will become the top 5 business travel markets in 2022. It will be interesting to see how corporates, and Online Travel Agencies (OTA) step up to cater to these new trends, to create a win-win situation for all.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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