The race to make corporate travel more like consumer travel is heating up. This time travel management companies may really mean it.
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
It looks like 2017 is the year of travel management companies finally coming to grips with the importance of not just providing savings and service, but powerful digital tools to travelers themselves.
This week we published a Q&A with Egencia President Rob Greyber, where he details the company’s focus on taking a page from parent company Expedia.
Even if going consumer in corporate travel isn’t sexy, it’s becoming increasingly important.
“I’ve got to tell you, I kind of hate the word consumerization, like you want to put someone to sleep on an airplane next to you, if they’re chatty when you’re on take off, just talk about consumerization and watch them nod off,” Greyber said.
As the industry widely turns to a new technology focus, areas ripe for change include the most irritating parts of the business travel experience: expenses, ground transportation, safety, and more inclusive itinerary management tools.
Concur, for instance, announced new safety and security tools this week that make every traveler trackable in case of emergency. We’re also seeing tools like artificial intelligence being used to make the corporate booking experience better.
It’ll be interesting to see how the competitive landscape in corporate travel shifts once these companies have a few years of intense focus on improving their technology offerings.
— Andrew Sheivachman, Skift
Social Quote of the Day
No purer example of the hedonic treadmill than watching rich dudes freak out about having to navigate a major American city without Uber.— @kevinroose
Business of Buying
Egencia Tries to Innovate Towards a Bigger Share of Corporate Travel: With its Expedia DNA, Egencia is well-positioned to help bring consumer innovations into the corporate travel mainstream. Read more at Skift
Hertz’s Latest Twist Is Adding Private Driver Services From Blacklane: Everyone has had a rental car nightmare — lost bookings, mysterious dents, or surprise fees. But rental car companies now face a nightmare of their own in fierce car-sharing competition. Expect Hertz’s Blacklane deal to be one of many initiatives as it copes. Read more at Skift
Expect Low-Cost, Long-Haul Airlines to Keep Growing, Trade Group Chief Says: It’s amazing it took this long for low-cost, long-haul airlines to reach critical mass. But IATA’s Alexandre de Juniac is right. There’s probably no stopping this trend now. People are demanding cheap international flights. Read more at Skift
More Employees Are Taking Control of Their Business Travel: In a hot job market, many employees are setting limits on business travel to limit its disruption on their personal lives. Read more at The New York Times
Marriott CEO Says More Hotel Mega-Mergers Are Likely: Marriott’s decision to buy Starwood does seem to make consolidation among the rest of the chasing pack seem very likely. The problem is nobody wants to get burned by doing a deal at the very top of the market. Read more at Skift
Safety + Security
Businesses Are Getting an Unwelcoming Vibe From the Travel Ban: International business travel to the U.S. has been a weak point recently due to the strong dollar. We may be about to find out how much worse it can get. Read more at Skift
New Trump Travel Ban Temporarily Blocked by Judges in Hawaii and Maryland: While the restraining order is temporary, the wording of the judge’s findings shows a strong chance that the courts will overturn yet another travel ban. Read more at Skift
Disruption + Innovation
Artificial Intelligence Is Coming to Corporate Booking Tools: Corporate-booking technology vendors Serko and Concur plan to add natural language bots to their tools. Other players are likely to follow. Read more at Skift
Ctrip’s Strategic Threat to Expedia, Priceline and Everyone Else: To a great extent, Ctrip is going to be preoccupied for years chasing Chinese travelers and servicing their every travel need, around the globe. Barring further consolidation, Ctrip isn’t much of a threat to its partner, the Priceline Group, which is years ahead in its own hotel business and is executing superbly. Read more at Skift
Can Tech Bros Navigate Austin’s SXSW Without the Help of Uber? In this new era of regulation-light, consumer-hostile rule changes, Uber and Lyft probably won’t have to wait long to get their way in the state of Texas. Read more at Skift
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Photo credit: Travel management companies are investing heavily in new technology tools for travelers. A train station in Madrid is pictured here. Calvin Smith / Flickr