Monday 27 January 2014

GUEST BLOG: The traveller manifesto: How future consumers are transforming business travel

A manifesto is a statement of belief.  As the Business Travel Show marks its 20th anniversary, we believe that the industry is in the midst of a profound transformation.

Over the last decade, the ‘Digital Wave’ – social, ‘Always On’, multiplatform computing – has been reshaping the business landscape and empowering consumers.  It has also accelerated the blending of work and leisure travel habits and preferences.  Over the next ten years, we believe that business travel will become an inspirational experience through personalised, technology-infused services.

According to our recent Future of Travel study*, 6 out of 10 British Millennials already extend their travel into leisure trips and 79% use their Smartphone and/or Tablet for booking travel and monitoring itineraries, a number only surpassed by Norway at 83% across Europe.

As these personal and business work styles ‘blur’, the premium Millennials place on valid ‘value exchanges’ will become even more real:  UK business travellers score higher than other Europeans in willingness to store or save personal data on travel sites in exchange for incentives (discounts, loyalty points, upgrades, etc), with Norway and Spain coming in at 83% and 72% respectively.

Lastly, Millennials are communicators. They prioritize and invest in 2 way communications before, during and after their trips. Specifically, 75% of UK employees consider travel reviews to be important for business, the highest level in Europe after Spain which is at 76%.  

Looking forward, what does this mean?

The advent of social networks and proliferation of user generated content has always been about end user empowerment. In 2002, Egencia disrupted the industry by unlocking travel agent information and bringing it to the traveller.  As we look ahead, we see a corporate travel landscape that continues to be consumer-inspired, integrates global technology with advanced services and supports the mobile work force.

The ‘moments of truth’ business travellers have – making an informed reservation, the need for safety, the ability to alter and share itineraries mid-trip, will not change.  The way they experience these moments will. 
In order to deliver on this promise, TMCs must provide access to full content, itinerary flexibility and next-generation customer services.  For their part, Travel Managers can take advantage of these macrotrends to drive productivity by infusing their programs with traveller preferences, enabling multiplatform communications and maximizing the power of smartphones, tablets and PCs for their travellers.  

A manifesto is a statement of belief.

As we define the future of travel, let’s engage with our travellers by delivering empowering, integrated, and personal experiences that will make life, and  ‘life on the road’,  an inspiration.
* The Future of Travel, study co-authored by Egencia and Expedia, Inc.

Jeannette Liendo is Global Director, Marketing Communications, Egencia, an Expedia, Inc. company. During BTS, she will be leading the workshop “Blurred Lines: The Future of Business Travel” on Wednesday, Feb. 5 from 10.15 to 11.30 at the Business Hub Theatre.

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