If there is a single theme as we look ahead into this year, it will indeed be the year of the traveler – the metaphorical “ME”. As travelers, we expect suppliers to know me, to talk to me, to inspire me, to connect me, to care for me.
The managed travel industry is evolving well beyond end-to-end services, customization, and using cost savings as the only measure of a successful managed travel program. With the coupling of travel intelligence and innovation with a more holistic view of the traveler as a person (not just a ‘baby boomer’ or ‘millennial’) organizations are being pushed greater than ever to deliver an engaging and rewarding travel experience for their employees. Here are some of the biggest trends we see heading into 2017 that centers on the traveler (ahem, ME).
Corporations are increasingly concerned with the wellness of their employees, particularly when they’re on the road. This year, we’ll see organizations reassess their travel programs and policies, particularly in the areas of risk management, duty of care policies and factors that impact the wear and tear of travelers. A successful travel program will be defined not just by cost management, but traveler well-being.
Access to all the right content
Travelers have more options than ever and they’re increasingly frustrated with having to decipher all the options and visit various websites and apps to manage their trip. This trend will continue to accelerate throughout 2017 as hotels and airlines introduce more purchasing options and sharing economy sites like Uber and Airbnb work to become “approved” suppliers by corporations. Finding a way to effectively aggregate all these options into a single app will be a focus for many technology suppliers.
The age of search is coming to an end. We are expected to know the traveler and deliver recommendations that are contextual and based on their evolving needs. Look for increased usage of artificial intelligence (AI) and bots to support text-based interactions in an automated, low-cost way.
Corporate travel booking tools are often unfavorably comparable to leisure sites when it comes to user experience. While corporate tools have many capabilities absent in leisure sites, it will no longer be a function over form equation. Technology providers are bringing balance to this equation by delivering rich user interfaces and robust capabilities that balance the traveler and corporate demands. New entrants into this space will continue to push the industry forward with innovative solutions.
What new trends do you expect to see in 2017? Let us know in the comments below.