It looks like travel managers are finally embracing the sharing economy in both ground transportation and lodging. Expect the growth of the sharing economy to continue in corporate travel, but it will be interesting to see if there will be a ceiling on adoption in coming years.
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
For years, sharing economy services like Airbnb and Uber have slowly entered the mainstream in corporate travel as travelers have brought their preferences as consumers into their business travel lifestyles.
The latest research shows growth in both the use of these services by travelers and the acceptance of their increased use by travel managers.
“I think what we’re seeing is what we’re calling the consumerization of business travelers,” said Jeanne Liu, vice president of research at the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). “It’s what you do in your regular consumer life. If you use ride-sharing and home-sharing, or if there are certain apps you like to use, it’s going to go into how you plan and how you pick your options in business travel as well.”
A new GBTA report found that half of companies now allow Uber or Lyft, an increase from 44 percent in mid-2016. It also discovered that 30 percent of policies allow business travelers to book accommodations on Airbnb.
Separately, a report from expense service Certify found that Airbnb transactions in business travel have doubled each year since 2014, while Uber is now one of the most expensed companies in the U.S.
The evidence is mounting that attempts by travel managers to drive their travelers away from the sharing economy haven’t worked. Now let’s see what they can do to enable travelers to use them, instead.
— Andrew Sheivachman, Skift
SOCIAL QUOTE OF THE DAY
whenever old line travel companies say their focus on duty of care obligations is a reason they’ll persist, I sharpen my knives. — @bharniman
BUSINESS OF BUYING
More Companies Are Allowing Travelers to Use Sharing Economy Services: Now that half of corporate travel policies allow ride-sharing services, at least according to this survey, we have to wonder: What is the holdup with the other half? And will alternative accommodations eventually make similar inroads? Read more at Skift
Companies Expect to Cut Business Travel in the Wake of Trump’s Travel Ban: The fallout over Friday’s problematic executive order continues: Companies are afraid that employees won’t be able to travel freely and won’t be safe while they’re on the road. Read more at Skift
The Hotel Industry Thinks 2017 Could Be the Year Corporate Travel Bounces Back: Even though every day with the new Trump administration seems unpredictable, early signs have convinced many in the hotel industry that this might just be the year that corporate travel rebounds from its 2016 slump. However, given the new executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, some executives throughout the travel industry may be rethinking their outlook on corporate travel. Read more at Skift
Airbnb Business Travel Transactions Doubled Since 2014: Could Airbnb be on the cusp of disrupting business travel lodging in a manner similar to how Uber has come to completely dominate ground transportation? Unlikely, but it seems that a growing number of companies are becoming more lenient towards Airbnb use in their corporate travel policies. Read more at Skift
Safety and Security
Google Recalls Traveling Employees Back to U.S. After Trump Immigration Order: Trump’s sudden executive order banning Muslim immigration from seven countries creates an immediate issue for many corporations employing people from these companies who work in the U.S. on visas. If they were out of the U.S. when the president issued the order there is fear they might not be able to return. Read more at Skift
TSA Will ‘Significantly Reduce’ Access to Precheck Lanes for Non-Members: Starting next month, TSA will limit the number of travelers who receive access to Precheck security lanes without joining the program. But the TSA is being cagey about exactly what this means, so we’ll have to wait until February to see how this affects airport lines. Read more at Skift
DISRUPTION + INNOVATION
iCars Buys Limos.com in Crowded Corporate Travel Ground Transport Market: The iCars merger with Limos.com makes the combined company a viable competitor against Blacklane and GroundLink, leaders in private car aggregation for corporate travelers. But all the companies need to step up their games. They need to deliver consistently quick responses to real-time bookings at multiple destinations via consumer-grade mobile apps. Read more at Skift
United CEO: Flying With ‘Subpar Product and Subpar Schedules Doesn’t Work:’ It’s nice to see United Airlines on the offensive again. Look for more flights on bigger jets in key business markets from United, which has fallen behind American and Delta in some important urban markets. Read more at Skift
This Is the Year of the Modern Female Traveler: The way the travel industry speaks to women is about to change. Pink-tinted products make it obvious that a company is targeting women, but these tokens don’t significantly improve the travel experience. Female leadership in travel companies is the next, deeper level of serving female travelers. Read more at Skift
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Photo credit: Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft use is surging in business travel, according to new research. Lyft's presence at the South by Southwest conference in Austin is pictured in this March 15, 2015 photo. Lyft