Skift Take

Rewarding business travelers for making good financial decisions may be the next big thing in corporate travel.

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

When we spoke to Priceline founder Jay Walker last week about the impending announcement of his new incentive-based business travel booking service Upside, he minced no words about his belief that gift cards from top retailers will quickly change the calculus by which business travelers place their bookings.

“There is pretty much no business traveler who is coming home and can’t afford to make a stop if they want,” Walker said. “There’s no business traveler who can’t stay a five minute Uber ride away from the convention center if that’s what they want to do. There’s never been a reason for the business traveler to be that flexible, because the company policies and other people’s money basically give them what they’re entitled to…. on the other hand, if you were getting $1,000 to stay at a two-star hotel that was perfectly fine instead of a four-or-five star, where do you stay?”

He’s not wrong. It’ll be interesting to see how travel management companies adapt if clients come asking for similar benefits in return for increased flexibility. Services like Rocketrip have been rewarding travelers for volunteering to travel in less costly ways, but Upside brings the visibility, and snazzy booking experience, only a founder like Walker can bestow.

Walker is also courting business travelers themselves, instead of travel managers or corporate decision makers. When workers tell their bosses that they want to earn gift cards for saving the company money, it’ll be hard for smart leaders to say no.

— Andrew Sheivachman, Skift

Social Quote of the Day

I’m at @ACTEtweets Forum in Delhi. @SabreTN research-“only 17% of travel managers recommending apps to their travelers”. That’s way too low! – @greeleykoch

Business of Buying

The Sharing Economy Is Becoming Acceptable for Business Travelers, But Many Travel Policies Still Aren’t Clear: Many companies are realizing that they cannot ignore the habits of their business travelers, but approval of the sharing economy is far from universal. Read more at Skift

Priceline Founder’s New Startup Will Pay Business Travelers to Be Flexible: Upside has the potential to upend how businesses book unmanaged travel. But only time will tell how business travelers will react to an app offering a $100 Amazon gift card to delay their arrival home after a long trip. Read more at Skift

United Airlines Highlights Failures While Promising That It Will Improve: We’ve heard this story before. But will this finally be the time United turns this around? United is looking to bring business travelers back into the fold. Read more at Skift

Security + Safety

Mystery Buyer: Supply Chains and Slavery: Travel managers need to be more aware of the human toll that business travel can create in less developed nations. Read more at Buying Business Travel

Disruption + Innovation

The Airport City That Wants to Be the New Model for Meetings and Knowledge Sharing: In a world of increasing social and political polarization, airport cities become the new platforms for business discourse among mobile knowledge workers. Read more at Skift

How a Brexit Would Affect UK Business Travelers: If the UK leaves the European Union, expect business travel from the UK to decline immediately. A long-term decline in overall European business travel may happen, too, as airlines are forced to avoid London. Read more at The Independent

Figuring out the Tech Solutions to Airbnb’s Racial Discrimination Problem: Discrimination isn’t a problem limited to peer-to-peer platforms like Airbnb, and it’s not a problem with the sharing economy itself. It’s a problem that has to do with human behavior — how we interact with one another, whether online or in real life — and one that travel brands need to offer more than lip service to improve. Read more at Skift

Sabre CEO Will Step Down by Year’s End, Leave Board of Directors: With the rapid changes now taking place on the distribution front, we’ll likely see more leadership changes as players seek to better position themselves for new opportunities. 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: ctir, rocketrip, upside

Photo credit: Priceline founder Jay Walker discusses his new company Upside on Bloomberg Markets. Bloomberg

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