Trends in Business Travel and Hospitality
Dramatic Changes Are in Play for How the World Travels for Work
Red Thinking specializes in marketing for all types of residential and commercial real estate, as well as business-focused travel hospitality, and we know what challenges (and solutions) are top-of-mind for that industry segment.
There’s typical travel for work – three days and two nights at a conference, a quick client presentation one day and back home the next, a two or three day visit by a senior executive to a new branch office in another city or country. Most people in business have at some point, been there, done that.
But what about the not-so-typical kind of business travel? The kind that involves long-term assignments for individuals or large teams, or even relocation of staff and their families for multi-year postings.
It used to be that stuffy hotels in the questionable part of town, or hotel “suites” with a microwave and a one cubic metre fridge were at the top of the list for businesspeople abroad. Or, a pat on the back from a supervisor, a list of Tokyo real estate agents, a pocket dictionary of Japanese property terms, and a smiling “Good luck!”
ALL of that is changing, including WHO chooses and books more long-term corporate travel these days. It used to be corporate travel managers who arranged business travel for employees and execs, and for many large corporations, that’s still true.
But in today’s era of cost-cutting and the ability to meet fast-paced needs at a moment’s notice, many employees are now tasked with finding and booking their own extended stay business travel.
Here are five key changes that are happening right now – and fast – in the world of global, extended stay business travel accommodation and hospitality planning:
- The Explosion of Online Technology
- Single Resources and Self-Service
- Cost-Cutting and Corporate Policy Compliance
- Customer Service, Duty of Care and Risk Management
- The Mix of Business and Pleasure for Long-Term Travelers
The Explosion of Online Technology
The Internet rules all. Everyone’s pretty aware of that by now, right? Immediacy and accuracy are the name of the game in all things online, especially commerce. This has affected long-term business travel planning just like everything else.
There just isn’t time today, or money, for extended stay business travel planning to happen how it used to, with RFPs, a long wait for proposals from providers, and the eventual step of clearing proposed travel plans with upper management.
Today, more (read that as most) searches and bookings for extended stay business travel accommodations around the world are done through smartphones, tablets and laptops, not desktops. Mobile apps are also paramount; travel planning providers who don’t have a mobile app don’t stand a chance.
Single Resources and Self-Service
Expedia. Travelocity. Priceline. Trivago. Airbnb. Their influences on personal travel have caused a big part of the sea change in business travel. End-user travelers and corporate travel managers demand all-encompassing websites where they can compare accommodation offerings across providers based on location, property type and price.
One upside to using all-encompassing online resources is that when travelling employees have an easy-to-use platform and the freedom to make their own travel choices, they are happier in their jobs.
To see an example of a single resource search and booking site, check out one of the industry’s far-out-front leaders, BridgeStreet.com.
Cost-Cutting and Corporate Policy Compliance
Today’s corporate travel planning is about more than saving time. It’s about saving money. Long gone are the Mad Men days of first class flights, four-star hotels and private car service with a driver waiting at the curb.
Even though large scale, extended stay travel accommodation needs are still important for companies worldwide, this is also one of the first line items in a corporate budget that comes under the microscope when money gets tight. Now more than ever, transparent cost comparisons and an emphasis on best value are driving factors.
So, if a company allows individual employees to find and book their own travel, limitations have to be set not just through policy, but through tech-based parameters that define cost limits and what kinds of accommodations can be booked. Sorry, no Tuscan villa with servants for you for that six-week posting to Italy, Mr. or Ms. Upper Management.
To meet these demands, many “aggregators” in the corporate travel planning industry now offer their clients the ability to create white label, custom configured and branded search portals, with all the necessary limitations and controls programmed in. Expense tracking and easy reporting have to be programmed in, too. Remember…everything in one simple, online resource.
Customer Service, Duty of Care and Risk Management
There’s also the demand for 24/7 customer care (for anxious travelers abroad and for managers back home), for accountability and service guarantees, and traveler safety. Organizations have a duty of care to their employees, so tracking and communication tools must be in place to limit potential risks.
The Mix of Business and Pleasure for Long-Term Travelers
Bleisure. Surely you’ve heard the term for the combination of business and leisure travel. Is it a bit of a silly word? Yes. Is it another trend in corporate business travel that can’t be ignored? YES.
It used to be that corporate travelers wanted to spend as little time away on business as they could. Now, employees and executives on extended stay business assignments want to make the most of their off-time, too, even having family and friends join them on holiday in a far-away location.
The great thing is, the same search variety, as well as cost and corporate policy controls, which business travelers used for finding and booking their day-to-day accommodations are available for leisure travel on those same booking platforms. And just like when employees have more choice and ownership of their travel planning options, the happier and more dedicated they will be.
So, to Fold Everything Up Into One Travel Package…
Here’s what today’s stressed, cost-obsessed business travelers and corporate travel planners are demanding:
- All their accommodation options in one easy, online resource, in the vein of the Expedias and Airbnb’s of the world
- Cost transparency and best value
- Compliance with corporate travel policies and budget parameters – built into the platform, not just on the “honor system” that travelers will stay within company guidelines
- On-demand customer service, duty of care, and guarantees that when travelers arrive, their accommodations will be the very best that they expected
- The ability to book business accommodations and leisure time accommodations during a long term, long distance business travel assignment.
To get even more in-depth information about the wave of changes that are transforming the world of extended stay business travel accommodations and planning, check out HeretoStay.TV.
Or, get in touch with Red Thinking at RedThinkingLLC.com