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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.
The Future of Corporate + Business Travel
Some of the smartest thinkers in travel appeared recently at the Skift Global Forum in New York City to talk about the future of searching, marketing, booking, selling, and experiencing travel.
While the conversations were rarely specific to corporate travel, some of the overarching trends have direct implications for travel buyers and travel management companies.
Paul English, the CEO of travel booking app Lola, talked about the desire for on-demand travel services and the company’s planned foray into natural language understanding capabilities. SilverRail CEO Aaron Gowell spoke about the need for seamless booking across multiple platforms. Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com, explained that customers don’t want different apps for different hotel needs. And some of the biggest figures in online travel predicted that voice-based search is going to become much more prevalent.
So what does all this mean for corporate travel players? We’ve said before that innovation in the corporate space tends to lag behind leisure, but with traveler behavior evolving so fast, it’s crucial for everyone to keep up.
— Hannah Sampson, Skift
Social Quote of the Day
Consensus so far is @Airbnb isn’t hurting #hotels business #travel segment yet. But when Airbnb cross-markets with airlines? Watch out! @Mark_Brandau
Business of Buying
Airbnb Isn’t Replacing Serviced Apartments for Business Travel Yet: Airbnb may be raising the visibility of traditional serviced apartments in the business travel space. It remains to be seen whether homesharing represents an existential threat to established corporate housing providers. Read more at Skift
Hotels Might Not Get the Rates They Want from Corporate Clients Next Year: A new report from NYU says corporate negotiated rates are expected to increase next year, but not as much as they did in 2016. Several factors are likely to give buyers more power than hotels. Read more at Business Travel News
British Airways Starts Charging for Food on Short Haul Flights: British Airways took a page out of Ryanair’s playbook on its plans for short-haul catering. And while the planned fee structures aren’t too galling, it may still rub some legacy passengers the wrong way. Read more at Skift
U.S. Travel Picked up This Summer, But Don’t Expect the Trend to Last: The good news is domestic business travel and domestic leisure travel grew at a faster pace in August than they had in previous months. But an outlook shows the travel industry still has lean times ahead, with domestic business travel expected to stay stagnant. Read more at Skift
Security + Safety
U.S. Issues Zika Travel Advisory for 11 Southeast Asia Countries: The list of countries where Zika is spreading keeps growing, which means employers need to keep updating their messages to business travelers. Risks should be explained and travelers should be given the option to their avoid areas of concern. Read more at Skift
A Supposedly Safe Samsung Phone Forced a Plane Evacuation: After the FAA strongly advised travelers not to bring certain Samsung phones on planes, the company started providing replacements with safe batteries. One of those Galaxy Note7 devices forced a Southwest flight to evacuate after it started smoking, which raises all kinds of fresh questions. Read more at Mashable
Disruption + Innovation
Expedia, Priceline Founders Say Voice-Based Search Is the Next Frontier in Travel: It’s hard to disagree with the fact that travel planning and booking are set for a social revolution. But how long will it be until voice-controlled interfaces hit the mainstream? Read more at Skift
Priceline Exec Says Virtual Reality May Make Travel Planning Obsolete: It was almost heresy a few years ago to say that people would arrive for a trip in a destination without a hotel reservation. Advances in artificial intelligence and virtual reality in coming years may take that whole trend even further. Will your grandkids say, “Trip-planning: What was that?” Read more at Skift
Airbnb Teams Up With Qantas for a Major Loyalty Play: Airbnb has made it clear it’s not a hotel company in the traditional sense, but with its latest loyalty play, it appears to be taking its lead from hotel-airline partnerships. Which makes us wonder: Will it eventually launch its own loyalty program in the not-so-distant future? Are other airline partnerships in other global regions also in the works now that they’ve already formed deals in Australia and the U.S.? Read more at Skift
Ford-Backed Self-Driving Car Startup In Talks for Big Funding Round: It looks like self-driving cars are actually going to happen. There will be plenty of winners and losers among the various competitors. The disruption will impact lots of people who drive for a living. Read more at Skift