When it comes to business, it is clear that the ‘personal touch’ goes a long way! Whether it’s about building customer relationships, bringing global teams together or expanding networks, going that extra mile for a face-to-face interaction makes a huge difference. But, increasingly digital technologies are changing the face of business travel. Corporations are seeking better value from travel spend, and travellers are looking for variety, price transparency and personalisation.
Renaud Nicolle, VP, business travel, travel channels Asia Pacific at Amadeus says that as the industry is working hard to perfect a personalised, smooth and reliable journey that business travellers desire, Business Travel Agencies (BTAs) need to adapt to the evolving environment to deliver a service that helps corporations and travellers get the most out of their business trip. “They need to offer options that respect corporations’ travel policies, optimise return on investment and ensure duty of care for the traveller,” he says.
He highlights some of the top trends from across Asia Pacific that he feels BTAs should look at – to develop a long-term strategy and discover what is transforming the business travel industry.
More aggregation will enable BTAs to access content more efficiently
“BTAs manage huge amounts of content on behalf of corporations; which hotel to book, picking the right flight and seat, and even choosing the right restaurant. Currently, this content is fragmented at several levels because it’s across so many different platforms. As travel content becomes aggregated and centralised, BTAs will be able to access content more efficiently, without changing platforms. This will deliver better experiences to business travellers because they can focus more on customer service initiatives.”
Tailored business travel experience, right from the start
“Today, business travellers want personalised, tailored journeys to be a part of their overall package, just like leisure journeys. With content being aggregated, BTAs will be able to offer more choice to the traveller and allow corporations to still manage the content according to policy. BTAs can get ahead by helping travellers access this information and tools that offer them the most efficient journey.”
Blockchain-like transparency at every touch point
“The travel industry will start to embrace a ‘blockchain principle’, making every single transaction in business travel like the buyer, the fleet operator, vehicles, drivers, riders, location, routes, feedback and pricing visible and transparent. This will mean BTAs will have insights into the complete journey of corporate travellers. Using this data, BTAs will be able to create personalized and tailored experiences.”
60% of business with leisure trips will be leveraged by millennials
“Expedia Group Media Solutions predicts that two-thirds of business trips morph into ‘b-leisure’ (business with leisure) trips and b-leisure travel spend will be made by millennials as they make up a growing share of the workforce. Agencies that make b-leisure a possibility for this generation will tap this potential profit by understanding and accommodating their needs.”
Business travel is moving towards a mobile-first approach
“Mobile technology is important to all types of travel agencies, more so for business travel. With hectic and time-sensitive schedules, travellers want to be able to communicate issues and manage travel plans seamlessly using a single channel, platform and device. This requires BTAs’ mobile platforms to be fully optimised and connected. It will make personalisation easier through mobile apps, gathering and using data, and sending relevant information.”
According to Mr Nicolle, BTAs also need to work on their perception! “They need to outgrow from being seen as just ticketing agents having slow turnaround times” and “they need to get over the challenge of accessing and managing fragmented content across different platforms,” he says. The only way they can achieve this is by having “a strong technology backbone”. This, he adds, will help BTAs “be at the forefront of innovation, understand the changing needs of their customers” and at the same time be able to move quickly to meet their needs.