A new and complex landscape is emerging in corporate travel. Despite the convenience of digital conferencing during the pandemic, many employees are opting for in-person meetings and attendance. A recent Deloitte study reports that corporate travel expenditures are poised for a full recovery by the end of 2024, driven by international trips and live events.

Business travel is all about seamless journeys, empowering employees to focus on their jobs without fretting over delayed flights, last-minute changes, connectivity issues and so forth. Furthermore, businesses hold a significant legal and ethical responsibility for the well-being of their employees, necessitating measures to ensure their health and safety.

Simultaneously, ”bleisure” travel is on the rise. Employees are seeking a travel culture that blends productivity with personalized experiences.

Navigating the Digital Transformation of the Travel Industry

Travel Management Companies (TMC) are pivotal in fulfilling these myriad expectations. However, many operators fall short of timely and quality metrics, compromising the ease, excitement and delight of travelers. As McKinsey says, “Nearly 80 percent of American travelers experienced at least one travel-related problem in the first half of 2023.”

Technology changes, such as the incorporation of the New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard, have introduced another layer of complexity in integration and services provided. Technology can deliver on travelers’ needs and compliance requirements, but adopting digital solutions successfully requires deep domain knowledge and technological know-how.

Some operators have recognized this need and taken action. A leading TMC, for example, reduced errors and improved service through a strategic partnership, leveraging analytics and automation solutions for quantifiably elevated productivity and customer experience.

As TMCs embark on a digital transformation journey, three corporate travel trends will drive their ability to unlock new business opportunities, extend market reach, streamline operations, reduce costs and ensure travelers stay connected:

  1. Voice as the Next Frontier

    The future of corporate travel revolves around the seamless interaction between humans and computers, particularly voice technology. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 60 percent of organizations with “voice of the customer” programs will enhance traditional surveys by analyzing customer interactions in voice and text formats.

    As travel companies invest in voice tech, corporations gain quicker access to traveler profiles, real-time alerts and in-flight amenities – all through intuitive language commands. No more toggling and scrolling through multiple screens; with voice, information will be readily available.

  2. Duty of Care

    Employers worldwide bear a legal and ethical duty of care toward their employees. Specific concerns range from inclement weather and operational glitches to geopolitical events.

    What is required is an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered ”travel buddy” – an empathetic, low-touch, omni-channel system – that provides real-time assistance and disruption management wherever employees and travelers may be. Monitoring travelers' safety and well-being is not only a legal requirement but also a way to boost productivity, enhance relationships and improve the bottom line.

  3. Omni-channel and Seamless Experience

    Modern corporate travelers are tech-savvy and demand continuous connectivity throughout their journeys. They seek immediate support and assistance without enduring extended wait times. A technology platform with an Application Programming Interface (API) that seamlessly integrates with the TMC’s mobile app, website and chatbot will ensure that travelers have all the information at their disposal.

    With the advent of 5G and AI, personalization and connectivity will reach new heights, providing a truly personalized travel experience. 5G connectivity will allow travel companies to deliver an exhilarating journey, seamlessly whisking business travelers from their homes to their chosen hotels, all finely tuned to cater to their needs.

The Way Forward

In a world where work and leisure intertwine, where technology and humanity merge, corporate travel is on the brink of a new era. The future of travel hinges on customer discernment, influenced by product, performance and price – a business-class travel experience at economy prices. For TMCs and corporate travel operators, the challenge today is surpassing market standards amid evolving customer demands and impending uncertainties.

The answer lies in a comprehensive approach that combines a well-defined business expansion and innovation plan with a future-forward, data-fueled digital transformation strategy. Technology partners with deep domain expertise will be crucial to hyperpersonalizing customer experience, minimizing carbon footprint and increasing revenue through enhanced communication, personalized offers, seamless transactions and agile processes.

Click here to learn more about how holistic digital transformation can boost your company’s corporate travel portfolio.

Join the conversation