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.
After talking to quite a few travel technology executives at the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) conference earlier this week in New York City, a few trends emerged surrounding how travel management companies are trying to push innovation forward in the ecosystem. The pace of change, many admitted, has been slow and arduous.
“It’s the same presentation each year,” an executive told Skift, referring to the opening session about the future of corporate travel. “It’s been the same conversation for the last five years.”
Not everyone, however, is having the same conversation. Ethan Bernstein, CEO and co-founder of flight-rebooking service Freebird, said the recent $5 million venture investment in the company will let his team put its head down and focus on figuring out the intricacies of getting companies to actually use the service.
Uber for Business head of enterprise in New York Josh Butler told us about the company’s effort to create an integrated digital platform for transportation services on the corporate side, ranging from ground transportation to events and shipping.
There is some cool stuff going on in corporate travel, if you know where to look. And with business travelers becoming more and more stressed (see below), anything that eases their pain points is more than welcome.
— Andrew Sheivachman, Skift
Social Quote of the Day
I now board all flights wearing a Go Pro camera — @palafo
Business of Buying
Business Travelers Are Stressed About Safety and Work-Life Balance: At the same time that many companies are implementing more traveler-friendly policies in order to make life better for their business travelers, fear and anxiety caused by politics and safety issues may be undercutting those gains. Read more at Skift
Alitalia in Chaos as a Sale or Breakup Seems Possible: When Alitalia last filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008, it defied predictions that it would shrink, break up, and be sold as a whole or in parts. This year, it is less likely to escape a cruel fate. Read more at Skift
Emerging Markets Will Drive Business Travel Growth Over Next Decade: While emerging economies in Asia and Africa will see the greatest business travel increase over the next decade, according to WTTC forecasts, the U.S. and China will remain the largest global business travel markets. Read more at Skift
Starwood Founder Launches New Extended Stay Brand Uptown Suites: Everyone, including Starwood founder Barry Sternlicht, it seems, is seeing the tremendous value of investing in the extended stay space. Read more at Skift
Alaska Air Focuses on Customer Experience and Loyalty as it Integrates Virgin America: Like them or not, basic economy fares are here to stay. And United is expanding them throughout its domestic markets. Read more at Skift
United Expands Its Basic Economy No-Frills Service: Alaska Airlines has always taken customer experience more seriously than other carriers, but historically, that’s been easier, since Alaska has been smaller than its competitors. It’s good to see Alaska still placing a major emphasis on customer satisfaction after its Virgin American acquisition. Read more at Skift
Safety + Security
TSA Video Seeks to Reassure Transgender Travelers: Sadly, it seems the TSA is still far away from recognizing that its policy requiring travelers to assume a gender when passing through security causes distress to many members of the LGBTQ community. Read more at Skift
Trump’s Laptop Ban Could Be Expanded to Arrivals From the UK: Given how big a market transatlantic aviation is, any move to extend the ban to flights coming from the UK would have a huge impact. Crucially, it could also impact U.S. airlines. Read more at Skift
Disruption + Innovation
Amadeus Tests Virtual Reality as a Travel Booking Option: Travel suppliers and agencies will only get serious about virtual reality when it’s more than a marketing stunt and actually grows revenue. So Amadeus is testing how flight comparison and booking could work in virtual reality. Read more at Skift
Hotel Podcasts Really Want to Be the Next Big Thing in Content Marketing: That podcasts are popular is undeniable. But will these hotel-produced and curated podcast playlists actually gain traction with listeners who eventually become paying guests? That’s the tricky part and honestly, we’re not so sure they will. Read more at Skift
Canada’s Largest Low-Cost Carrier Is Starting an Even Cheaper Airline: This is an interesting move by WestJet, commonly considered the Southwest Airlines of Canada. It’s likely mostly defensive, as several ultra-low-cost carriers plan to start in Canada. But it’s also probably an opportunistic play that may improve revenues. Read more at Skift