CORPORATE TRAVEL TRENDS FOR 2019

CORPORATE TRAVEL IS A VITAL COMPONENT OF TOURISM AND A COUNTRY’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. A HIGHER NUMBER OF BUSINESS TRAVELERS NOW CONVERT BUSINESS-ONLY TRIPS TO MINI VACATIONS, GIVING THEM TIME TO EXPLORE DESTINATIONS

HERE ARE FIVE CORPORATE TRAVEL TRENDS TO WATCH OUT FOR IN 2019.

1A PERSONALIZED SERVICE

Usually the role undertaken by the hosting organization, peronalising travel is the best way to get noticed by frequent business fliers. This does not mean only arranging a pick-up from the airport, but taking care of their needs from flight to hotel, to activities. Travel companies must put people first, not policies and processes. Today, business intelligence and data analytics allow companies to recognize frequent corporate travelers, making it possible to deliver a truly unique service. By analyzing past travel plans and preferences, companies can curate their stays for maximum valueadd in terms of unique products and services for a stress-free travel experience.

BUSINESS OR LEISURE? BOTH.

With a younger workforce now holding positions of power in the corporate world, trends are changing globally. A bigger trend is once boring business trips being lit up with a touch of leisure – introducing bleisure travel. Blurring the line between life and work, most corporate travellers are now combining business trips with the weekend, as an extended holiday after business is done. Also done to lighten the stress of work trips, extended stays provide the opportunity to explore the destination and experience its culture. The trend means that business travel can now be viewed as a perk, not a drag, with the potential to improve employee happiness and even productivity.

EXPERIENTIAL TRAVEL

A growing segment of bleisure travel also opens the door for travel companies to market experiences. With experiential travel being a buzzword today, travelers appreciate a local experience after sitting in a meeting room all day. Whether it’s soaking up the local culture or indulging in a hobby like hiking, they prefer making the most of their time at a destination, rather than rushing home after a business meeting. Today’s corporate travelers require more flexibility and personalization when they travel, and an increasing number of hotels are jumping on the bandwagon by offering day rates for corporate travelers, as well as focusing on traveler satisfaction rather than billing guest nights.

2ADOPTION OF AI & IOT

The adoption of new technologies benefits travel companies and hotels alike in personalizing their service for customers. Using machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) can identify personal preferences that draw repeat guests to a particular company or hotel. Guest-centric hospitality is the need of the hour, and AI makes this possible by analysing requirements of corporate travellers. Companies are also using chatbots to interact with guests and receive feedback based on behaviour, to better meet customer expectations.

Big data and process automation can also help improve efficiencies and meet traveler expectations. The Internet of Things (IoT) enables hotels to use smart devices to enhance the guest experience – allowing guests to control lights, air-conditioning and heating systems to their preference. It can also facilitate the check-in process by sending electronic keys to smart devices, making the hospitality industry smarter.

THE SHARING ECONOMY

According to the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, despite the significant increase in tourist arrivals to the country, only half of them stay at star-rated properties. Mi casa es su casa takes on a whole new meaning in the sharing economy, with companies like Airbnb changing the way people travel. Cost savings, more local flavor and a personalized experience are a few reason why bleisure travelers opt to rent a home rather than checking into a hotel. Longer check-in windows and the ability to rent anything from one bedroom for two to a villa for the whole team are additional reasons why business travelers are also now opting for “Airbnbs”.