Simplification of the booking and payment process is perhaps the single largest trend to look forward to in 2020 according to Flight Centre Travel Group’s chief experience officer, corporate, John Morhous. But, what else will we see in the year ahead?
Mr Morhous presented the global travel management company’s insights in Australia this week at a webinar discussing what the future of business travel will look like and how global technology innovations are changing the way we search, book and pay for and navigate the travel experience itself.
“This is something that Flight Centre Travel Group is really focussed on as well as the industry at large,” he explained. “The overall traveller journey from start to finish is being augmented by various new products and services in our corporate brands.
“Integrations like ride sharing services into corporate travel programs – such as FCTG’s partnership with Uber for Business, flexible credit cards, virtual and tap payment services, through to single approval workflows for travel and expenses are now making it easier to book and pay for business travel,” he added.
So, looking ahead, what key trends can we look forward to in the business travel space towards 2030? ]
According to Mr Morhous these comprise:
- Focus on End-to-End Traveller Journey
“There will be a large focus on bringing together all phases of a travel journey – not just the search and booking process. Already, AI is augmenting various parts of the process, but further development will progress real solutions from when someone finds out they have to travel. For example, what do they do for searching and booking? What do they do when on the trip? What happens when they have a disruption? What about when they get back? The next generation of travel products will make sure all those different flows are tied into an actual cohesive stream of events and make sure when human support is needed that the traveller can very easily contact their consultant to receive assistance. FCTG has already introduced its AI chatbot, Sam (Smart Assistant for Mobile), which is providing context-based, real time assistance for travellers including for travel disruption management.”
“A tremendous amount of activity is occurring with new innovative features available for payments including the ability to have different types of credit cards deployed on demand; the ability to set and restrict limits on cards on a per trip basis when people are travelling. This married with ‘tap and pay’ and other advancements and how we actually accept payments at various providers is really starting to pave the way for change in the payments area.”
- Traveller wellbeing
“Traveller wellbeing really comes in two forms: safety and traveller health. Most companies have recognised that they have a duty of care when it comes to the safety of their staff, and travel products and programs are becoming better at monitoring the whereabouts of staff and the status of the destination. Health of travellers whilst they’re on a trip will become increasingly important as companies understand that their employees are their greatest asset. The importance of a flexible travel program is becoming an important differentiator for employees and prospective staff, especially for those where travel is an important component of their role.”
- Content and distribution
“The New Distribution Capability (NDC) being introduced by IATA allows airlines to provide their customers with more relevant choice, improved options and greater personalisation in regard to the flights, cars and hotels that customers are booking. Changes are starting to flow from this, but it will be quite dramatic over the next decade, especially in how offers are customised to each individual based on their needs.”
- Wearable technology and augmented reality
“Towards the end of the next decade it’s expected that there will be great strides made in the form of wearable technology to assist the traveller and advances in augmented reality that will really start to gain traction in the corporate travel sector.”
“An increased use of biometrics will have the greatest impact in terms of simplifying the physical travel experience. More airports, airlines and other stakeholders in the journey process will use biometrics as a faster and more efficient way to identify and move people through airport queues.”
Above all, one of the practical shifts Morhous says he is observing is the alignment of travel approval with travel expenses by businesses really focused on end-to-end workflows for their travellers.
“If I’m taking a business trip from Brisbane to Sydney return for a couple of days, why do I need approval for the expenses that get incurred if I already have approval for the trip itself, and have sufficient restrictions on where my card can and cannot be used,” he highlighted.
Can we streamline that into a single system? “We’re starting to see a new crop of technology companies, payment firms and booking tools starting to support this flow,” outlined the executive.