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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
When Skift spoke to Egencia president Rob Greyber earlier this week about the corporate travel giant’s restructuring, it seemed like Greyber’s team will take lessons learned from Expedia’s worldwide growth and apply them to the world of business travel.
“The strategic perspective we’ve always set, our long time goal with Expedia, is how we can revolutionize the industry through power of technology; this is what [Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi] talks about, and that’s what we’re thinking about in business travel and corporate travel,” Greyber said. “We have a strong foundation to claim that [position in the corporate travel ecosystem].”
Egencia will organize itself into two new divisions: one controlling supply and operations, with the other handling sales and account management. This will let the company share best practices and insights on a global basis, instead of operations being siloed by region. The change will also let its product teams, presumably, craft technology and digital booking tools geared to a worldwide audience.
“At Egencia, we are clear about where we start: with the business traveler in mind,” said Greyber. The move, however, will also make it simpler for Egencia’s sales team to grow its share across the global corporate travel market.
— Andrew Sheivachman, Skift
Social Quote of the Day
I’m in corporate travel. Thank God, Trump properties are out of policy for my clients. But I’d never book in if they were — @GinnyRED57
Business of Buying
Booking.com in Reversal as It Launches Loyalty Program for Business Travelers: There’s no doubt that Booking.com already has the user base — and can increase it — to be successful in catering to unmanaged business travelers. Whether a loyalty program will turn out to be advantageous remains to be seen and can be adjusted as the situation merits. The real question is whether Booking.com, like Expedia’s Egencia, will take the next step into managed travel by acquisition or otherwise. Read more at Skift
High Airfare Has Led to Fewer Premium Biz Travel Air Bookings: After two years of selling more premium airfares to clients, corporate travel agents are seeing a slight downturn. High pricing could be the culprit. Read more at Business Travel News
Three Months In, UK Travel Industry Learning to Live With Brexit: With the UK government seemingly determined to sever all ties with the European Union, things don’t look great for the travel industry. For the time being there’s not much companies can do but hope for the best. Read more at Skift
American Airlines Launches Its Premium Economy: American’s got a new premium economy cabin that it is flying domestically for the next few months. Let’s see if it turns into a viable product. Read more at Skift
Another Volatile Year for Oil and Gas Sector Is Ahead: A new report from CWT shows that low oil prices will continue to affect corporate travel buyers in 2017. Read more at Buying Business Travel
Security + Safety
Samsung Note 7 Phones Are Toast After Another Plane Fire: Samsung has been forced to initiate a full recall of all its Galaxy Note 7 phones after another unit exploded on a Southwest Airlines flight last week. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Division is looking into the latest incident, as well. Read more at The Verge
Disruption + Innovation
Expedia Restructures Egencia Corporate Travel Unit: Egencia is moving ahead with the understanding that travel management companies need to operate globally, with a focus on developing the technology tools that business travelers actually want to use. This approach makes sense in a space where mobile booking is likely to become ubiquitous in the next decade. Read more at Skift
Expedia Plans to Use Artificial Intelligence for Customer Service: There has been serious talk about artificial intelligence in travel for the past couple of years. While Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wasn’t talking about implementing artificial intelligence for customer service in the next quarter or two, be assured that Expedia and others are working on it hard. Read more at Skift
A Better Look at Airbnb’s New City Hosts Program for Next-Gen Tours and Activities: Can Airbnb succeed in making packaged tours or peer-to-peer travel experiences cool? That’s the big question when it comes to its latest investment, which is set to debut at its upcoming Airbnb Open in November. We have a feeling Airbnb just might be able to. Read more at Skift