The business travel environment continues to change rapidly. Experts believe the industry has entered a new era, characterised by technology and social networks. For corporates, the new reality, dubbed ‘Travel 3.0’, requires significant changes in policy, process and technology.
Corporate travel 1.0 was the birth of business travel, marked by the growth of travel management companies, in-house travel managers, formal travel policies and corporate deals. This era of travel was dominated by global distribution systems (GDSs), which were effectively the only link between suppliers and buyers.
Some see the 9/11 terror attacks as the dawn of corporate travel 2.0. By 2001, computerised self-booking and direct connections with emerging airlines and accommodation providers were gaining momentum. This meant that when disaster struck in Sept-2001, many organisations realised they couldn’t track their travellers and ensure they were safe. This led to a renewed emphasis on centralised data and the need for all bookings to be made “within the system”.
Corporate travel has been revolutionised over the past decade and a half, especially in Australia where self-booking has become the norm. Many Australian organisations perform in excess of 90% of their bookings online through a corporate booking engine, either supplied or supported by their TMC. The transition to self-booking has been aided by the large proportion of simple domestic point-to-point trips undertaken in the country, the changing economics of travel management in the move from supplier-paid agency commission to user-pays fees, and the penetration of the internet and personal computing into the business environment.
The latest incarnation, Managed Travel 3.0, has been hastened by the rapid uptake of smartphones and internet-connected mobile devices.
The growing uptake of smartphones
According to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, 84 million new mobile subscriptions were added globally in Q3-2016, reaching a total of 7.5 billion. Meanwhile, Phocuswright has determined that mobile devices are the source of 20% of all online travel spending, meaning that one in every five dollars spent comes from smartphones and tablets.
In Part 2 of this series, as the corporate travel industry remains focused on connectivity, we look at emerging technology entering the market and what steps are being taken to offer solutions to increasingly demanding corporate travellers and their travel managers.