The Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report is our 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

Many frequent business travelers have go-to apps, whether for their favorite airline, itinerary organizer, ride-hailing service, or restaurant guide.

For travel management companies, mobile engagement represents a big opportunity: If travelers use the  company’s app, the idea goes, they are easier to keep track of and likelier to abide by their employers’ policies.  But the challenge is to develop a robust mobile option that can function in the ways that travelers need.

The topic got a lot of attention at the Travelport 2016 Americas Customer Conference in South Florida recently; the travel commerce platform acquired Mobile Travel Technologies, a mobile travel technology provider, last year.

Rose Collazo Stratford, executive vice president of global supplier relations and strategic sourcing for BCD Travel, highlighted her company’s journey into mobile during the conference.

“It’s not a one-time investment,” she said of the company’s TripSource app, which was developed by MTT. “It’s an investment that requires resources and funding year after year.”

The app is evolving to soon add hotel bookings, chat messaging, and merchandising — all functions meant to help make the experience more seamless for travelers, Stratford said. Those self-service options will become even more important in the coming years as nearly half of the workforce is expected to be made up by millennials by 2020, she said.

“You really have to have a very agile approach,” Stratford said. “Things are moving at a very fast, rapid pace. What you may have thought six months ago probably isn’t going to work now.”

In other words: Travel management companies can’t just introduce an app and move on. They need to keep up with the travelers of today — and tomorrow

— Hannah Sampson, Skift

Social Quote of the Day

@AdvitoTravel expects most airfares globally will remain flat or decline. Download the Industry Forecast update: http://ow.ly/zxXv301fDEl  – @BCDTravel

Business of Buying

Hilton’s Extended Stay Brands Want to Teach Men How to Be Better Travel Planners: We wonder how travel managers will feel about this effort to appeal directly to male travelers — or “travel MANagers,” as they’re being called — especially since business travelers make up a big part of Hilton’s extended-stay guest base. Read more at Skift

Travel Budgets Have Peaked as Share of Consumer Wallet, Growth to Cool Down: Who will win in the book-direct campaigns by chains such as Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, and others to steal share from the online travel agencies? The question misses the point and would be better phrased as whether it will it be the hotel chains or online travel agencies that gain the upper hand during which phase of the economic cycle. Read more at Skift

Domestic Business Travel Finally Grew, But the Progress Isn’t Expected to Last: After posting declines for more than a year, domestic business travel finally grew in April, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Trends Index. Spending is expected to drop in the coming months even as bookings rise, and the forecast calls for business travel to “remain a drag” on domestic travel growth overall. Read more at Business Travel News

Security + Safety

Low-Cost Holdouts Frontier and Spirit Will Join TSA’s PreCheck Program: Frontier and Spirit are finally joining the TSA’s PreCheck program, which is good news for travelers who don’t want to wait in long security lines. Business travelers like the security fast lanes; will this make them any more likely to choose the budget carriers? Read more at Skift

Disruption + Innovation

CEO Interview: Is There Room for Experimentation in Corporate Travel?: Improved automation, and the presence of more diverse travel products in corporate travel policies, has the potential to free up corporate travel professionals to better focus on travelers themselves. Read more at Skift

Uber’s Big Rival in China Raised Another $7 Billion: Competition continues to heat up between global ride sharing giant Uber an China leader Didi. For now, that means an abundance of supply for users in China. Read more at Bloomberg

How Useful Will Virtual Reality Be to Travel Buyers?: As virtual reality headsets become widely available, travel companies are embracing the devices as marketing tools. The technology could allow travel management companies to show clients a better view of what products are available. Read more at Buying Business Travel

The Sharing Economy Universe Has Grown Beyond Cars and Rooms: Business travelers are using a variety of sharing economy and on-demand services for everything from transportation to lodging, laundry, food delivery, and shipping. Travel managers need to consider emerging offerings as well as currently popular services as they put policies in place. Read more at Business Travel News

Comments

The Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report is curated by Skift editors Hannah Sampson [hs@skift.com] and Andrew Sheivachman [as@skift.com]. The newsletter is emailed every Thursday.

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Photo Credit: Travel management companies are offering more mobile services to clients. Shutterstock