Compared to other, more nimble sectors of the travel industry, corporate travel is deeply entrenched and slow-moving when it comes to game-changing innovation.
While business travelers are avid users of Uber and Airbnb when they travel for leisure, an extreme majority of corporate travel policies have yet to allow sharing economy services, despite low costs and streamlined reporting.
Here’s what some top executives in the corporate travel space have said on video about the sharing economy, the slowly changing corporate travel ecosystem and the future of serving corporate clients.
Stronger Partnerships Are Inevitable
As sharing economy services become more mainstream and mature, corporate travel managers will find ways to integrate them into travel policies.
“Would I go out and buy a black car limousine service in New York City right now? Probably not,” said Greg O’Hara, American Express Global Business Travel’s chairman of the board at Phocuswright earlier this year. “Because we’re prepared to cede that market to Uber… they will probably be in policy, because we don’t have duty of care issues with Uber.”
Bringing Leisure into Corporate
Most business travelers are extremely familiar with online booking tools from their personal travels. More robust personal booking tools will help business travelers have more control over their experience while following corporate policy.
“The challenge of that is getting the travelers engaged in the program and making sure they’re utilizing the corporate rates and not going rogue on booking travel on their own,” said John Snyder, president and CEO of BCD Travel, told CNN Business Traveler host Richard Quest. “Part of the blame we get is that it’s a lot harder to book business travel than it is for me to book my leisure travel. We’re bringing those leisure tools into the corporate environment, and making it easier for our corporate customers when they’re booking or on the road.”
Don’t Expect Big Changes in Distribution… Yet
Open booking remains a bugbear for travel management companies. But there are some positive signs of companies looking to experiment.
“We’re interested in trying open booking,” said Douglas Anderson, president and CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel. “We need to make it easier and more convenient for travelers to find the hotel content they’re looking for.”
Airbnb Is Good for the Serviced Apartment Sector
One would think that room sharing services are a major threat to the service apartment industry. But executives say Airbnb has popularized the idea of staying somewhere else besides a hotel, leading more business travelers to consider serviced apartments. “Airbnb has done us all a great favor,” said Sean Worker, CEO of BridgeStreet Global Hospitality.