Skift Take

Companies — and travel managers — are realizing that keeping their travelers satisfied is good for business.

The Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report is our new weekly newsletter focused on the future of corporate travel, the big fault lines of disruption for travel managers and buyers, the innovations emerging from the sector, and the changing business traveler habits that are upending how corporate travel is packaged, bought and sold.

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The Future of Corporate + Business Travel

Earlier this week, hundreds of travel managers, suppliers, buyers, and other members of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives gathered in Dallas to talk about the biggest issues they face.  Some of the hot topics at the ACTE Global Corporate Travel Conference included keeping track of travelers, getting employees to comply with travel policies, utilizing virtual payments, using (or ignoring) sharing economy options such as Airbnb, and embracing mobile tools.

But one of the major themes was both simpler and more complicated: how to make sure travelers are satisfied. It’s not a new trend — in fact, it’s been talked about for long enough that there’s a buzz phrase, “traveler centricity,” to describe it. But most everyone agreed that taking care of employees was becoming more important than ever.

“Since we are all, I think, competing for the best talent, the satisfaction of our employees needs to be top priority,” said Tobias Ragge, CEO of hotel booking service HRS. “I think every organization is concerned with this.”

Executives were quick to point out that a focus on satisfaction didn’t give travelers license to book the most expensive hotels or business class flights all the time. But road warriors should be happy to hear that their concerns are getting attention.

— Hannah Sampson, Skift

Social Quote of the Day

Open a direct line of communication of safety + security policies with employees to help keep #roadwarriors protected. #ACTEDallas @amexgbt

Business of Buying

American Airlines Is Working to Woo Corporate Travel Executives: American Airlines is laying out serious money on new planes and in-flight upgrades to attract customers who will pay a premium. Read more at Skift

Delta Execs Say They Don’t See a Weakness in Corporate Travel Demand: Rumors of a downturn in corporate travel have been greatly exaggerated according to Delta Air Lines. Delta executives, however, do admit that corporate yields have decreased. Read more at Skift

Hyatt Enters the Direct Booking Wars With Discounted Loyalty Member Rates: Hyatt is the latest U.S. hotel company to enter the direct booking wars, which presents fresh challenges for travel managers who want employees to book through approved channels. Read more at Skift

Addressing Traveler Stress

Safety Concerns Are Taking a Toll on Business Travelers: We often think of road warriors as a stoic bunch, but it’s important for companies not to overlook the toll of fear on travelers and their families — especially if they want those employees to stay on the road. Read more at Skift

5 New Travel Startups Making Business Travel Stress-Free: Slowly but surely, the various business travel processes are being dissected and improved so that sending an employee on a trip makes more sense. This is done in an age when some would argue that technology makes that more unjustified. Read more at Skift

3 Charts Showing Why Business Travelers Don’t Like Booking Multi-City Trips: When airlines make changes that inconvenience business travelers, they should expect an outcry. That’s happening now with new rules for multi-city fares. Read more at Skift

Disruption + Innovation

Lyft Gains on Uber in Corporate Travel, While Taxi Use Plummets:  Uber has built a dominating advantage when it comes to ground transportation in corporate travel. But cheap fares from Lyft, combined with happier drivers and more robust expense reporting tools, will likely lead to increased growth at the expense of Uber’s dominant market share. The entry of ride hailing apps into the mainstream also presages a continued decline in both taxi rides and car rentals. Read more at Skift

Corporate Travel Struggling to Implement Mobile and Virtual Payments: The way that hotel stays are booked, especially in Europe, could make it hard for digital innovations like virtual cards and mobile payments to ever really catch on in corporate travel. Read more at Skift

Corporate Travel Management Is Still on a Shopping Spree: With its acquisition of Boston’s Travizon Travel, Australia-based Corporate Travel Management is poised to become a giant in the U.S. market. Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald

Carlson Wagonlit Travel Abruptly Replaces Its CEO: It will be interesting to see how this shakeup will affect such a major player in travel management. We look forward to hearing more from the new CEO (as well as learning the backstory of his predecessor’s departure). Read more at Skift


The Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report is curated by Skift editors Hannah Sampson [[email protected]] and Andrew Sheivachman [[email protected]]. The newsletter is emailed every Thursday.

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Tags: business travel, corporate travel, ctir

Photo credit: A traveler at Chicago O'Hare International Airport Nick Harris / Flickr

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