Skift Take

Employers have a responsibility to keep their traveling workers safe and healthy — but must also respect their privacy. Those considerations can be complicated to navigate.

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

As if business travelers and travel managers needed something else to worry about.

In a year that has brought awful news of terror attacks and  political upheaval, not to mention general economic malaise, a fast-spreading mosquito-borne virus may seem like an afterthought.

But as several stakeholders told Skift, the Zika virus is a tricky subject because it poses the biggest threat to pregnant women or couples who are planning to start a family in the near future. That’s a private matter, so business travelers may feel torn between prioritizing their own health and facing negative repercussions if they turn down a trip to a Zika zone. The key, experts say, is communicating the risk to everyone and giving all employees the assurance that they can refuse travel without consequence.

It’s a tension that has long existed for business travelers and their employers: How much privacy does someone want to sacrifice in the name of safety? As technology allows for careful monitoring of road warriors, how closely do they even want to be monitored?

A survey by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives released this spring showed that 33 percent of travelers said they were less sensitive to privacy concerns as terrorism threats increased, but 52 percent said they were not less sensitive to the privacy issue.

Regardless of what happens with Zika, the larger issue is here to stay.

— Hannah Sampson, Skift

Social Quote of the Day

90℅ of my business travel could have been more effectively utilized via a technology solution rather than an airplane. @HarryTucker

Business of Buying

Corporate Travel Companies Are Still Trying to Figure Out Mobile Tools: Travel managers seem to know that they need to get a better handle on mobile use — the question is how travelers will respond to clear-cut recommendations. Read more at Skift

Business Travelers Value Passenger Experience While Travel Managers Prefer Discounts: Travelers and their travel managers don’t always agree on the most important preferences when flying. But most travel managers, for some reason, don’t use formal tools to receive traveler feedback. Perhaps the gaps could be narrowed with more engagement between travel managers and travelers. Read more at Skift

The State of Airline Upgrades for the Big 3 U.S. Carriers: Getting an upgrade is no simple matter for frequent fliers anymore, especially when airlines can make more money by selling premium seats to the highest bidder. Read more at Skift

Fees at U.S. Hotels on Track for a Record High This Year: More hotels are realizing that charging people for Wi-Fi access isn’t going to win them any brownie points. But beyond consumer ire, including angry TripAdvisor reviews, hoteliers should probably be more concerned about the Federal Trade Commission stepping in and clamping down on perceived “deceptive hotel fees.” Read more at Skift

Security + Safety

Why Zika Is a Complicated Concern for Corporate Travel: The threat of the Zika virus doesn’t appear to be cutting into business travel — but it is prompting conversations, and those can be tricky to manage. Companies should communicate risks with all of their travelers and allow them to opt out, especially as areas of active transmission spread. Read more at Skift

New York and Los Angeles Airport Scares Highlight TSA’s Failures: Recent panic at airports in New York City and Los Angeles — both sparked by false alarms — show that better preparation is needed for the Transportation Security Administration to adequately respond to real threats. Read more at Skift 

Disruption + Innovation

United Poaches American Airlines President Scott Kirby: Scott Kirby, known for his strong financial acumen, could be the savior United’s investors have been seeking. Read more at Skift

Uber Is Setting New Records for Losing Money Quickly: Uber can be huge and it is transformative, but it will be near impossible to live up to the lofty valuations it has used to raise more and more money. Especially as it reaches a saturation point in the U.S. while still losing cash. Read more at Skift

Upscale Hostels Look Beyond Millennials to Business Travelers: There’s a certain convergence under way between hostels and hotels as both often seek to attract millennials as well as business travelers. Business travelers often see hostels as an optimum choice when hotels are booked up, but many road warriors express satisfaction with the experience. Read more at Skift

American Express GBT Acquires KDS in Push to Accelerate Online Booking: While this acquisition was surely already in the works, it will be interesting to see if former Carlson Wagonlit Travel head Doug Anderson’s tenure at American Express GBT leads to even more industry consolidation. 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: corporate travel, ctir

Photo credit: Miami Beach is one of the areas in South Florida where the Zika virus is being spread by mosquitoes. Shown here is the pool of the Delano in South Beach. Alan Diaz / Associated Press

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