Skift Take

Is the decline in business travel to and from the UK so far this year just a blip or a post-Brexit trend? The uncertainty that still remains around Britain's departure from the EU isn't giving companies confidence, and that's bad for business travel.

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.

If there was an overarching message in 2016, it was this: Business travel does not like uncertainty. And nearly a year after citizens of the UK voted to leave the European Union, there are still many unknowns about how Brexit will play out.

As Europe Editor Patrick Whyte reports, business travel to and from the UK is down for the first six months of the year. In the quarter that ended June 30, incoming business travel fell 4 percent year-over-year while outgoing business trips dropped 7 percent. Experts say business confidence is low due to political uncertainty and the potential impact of Brexit.

In an annual global forecast released last month, the Global Business Travel Association said the details of Britain’s departure will determine what happens with business travel as the plan moves forward.

“Financial, immigration, and trade upheaval will reduce management confidence,” the forecast said. “This will cause some trip cancellations/postponement and greater
budget scrutiny. Slower economic activity and greater travel friction between the UK and EU is the greater business travel risk.”

In less gloomy news, we also have several stories this week about innovation in air travel, though in some cases airlines are simply catching up on technology as opposed to breaking new ground. Delta is testing out video chat for customer service calls, Alaska Airlines is upgrading Wi-Fi, and a couple of companies are working to make it easier to grab a quick bite at the airport. We can always get behind innovation that feeds us faster.

— Hannah Sampson, News Editor 

Business of Buying

Norwegian Air Is Already Driving Down Transatlantic Airline Fares: Low-cost carriers like Norwegian need to strike the right balance between a low-cost, reliable product, and decent service on the consumer side and sustainable business on the corporate side to remain a threat to legacy carriers. Read more at Skift

UK Business Travel Is in a Post-Brexit Slump: Even with the drop in value of the pound making it much more attractive to travel to the UK, business travel seems to be suffering. This could be because of the perceived fragility of the country both economically and politically. Read more at Skift

Travel Payments See $10.4 Billion Merger That Makes Worldpay a Stronger Competitor: Vantiv’s $10.4 billion acquisition of Worldpay creates a payments-processing powerhouse with a huge hand in helping travel businesses boost online and mobile purchases. Due to competition from new rivals, fees are unlikely to spike yet. Read more at Skift

Safety + Security

Clear Strives to Become an Airport Security Alternative for Supertravelers: Clear’s user experience has evolved significantly since its launch, and the service bears a look from supertravelers — and potentially beyond. Read more at Skift

Tourists and Locals Return to Barcelona’s Las Ramblas After Attack: During a summer in which we all asked if Barcelona was broken, the city’s response to a terrifying event argues loudly that it is as resilient as ever. Read more at Skift

New iJet Acquisition Shows the Importance of Real-Time Security Information: Global risk management firm iJet International has bought technology that monitors real-time reports and alerts and notifies travelers who might be near a dangerous situation. The deal shows how critical up-to-date information is for companies that have a responsibility to look out for the safety and well-being of their travelers. Read more at Business Travel News

Disruption + Innovation

Delta Air Lines Will Take Some Customer Service Calls via Video Chat: Yes, Americans do make video calls in their everyday lives. But they make them using machines they own. Do airline passengers want to resolve issues by using one of five kiosks in an airport terminal? Perhaps some do, but we’re betting many will find the phone just as useful. This seems like it would have a been a novel announcement in 2009. Read more at Skift

New Apps for the Airport Promise to Feed Time-Crunched Travelers Fast: If this works at scale, it’ll be appreciated by travelers in hub airports, where there’s often not enough time to grab food between flights. But reliably delivering food to passengers waiting at gates is logistically difficult, if not impossible. We’ll see if these new services can pull it off. Read more at Skift

Alaska Airlines Will Finally Add Speedy Wi-Fi on All of Its Big Jets: We know it takes a long time to retrofit airplanes. And we know airlines hate to remove planes from service. But we wish Alaska could work faster to add speedy Wi-Fi. Three years is a long time to wait. Read more at Skift

Mobile Booking Isn’t Breaking Through for Some Business Travelers:  While Chinese travelers have embraced mobile booking, those in many other parts of the world still overwhelmingly use desktop computers to plan trips. Experts believe that will change as younger travelers book more trips. Read more at Buying Business Travel 


Skift editors Hannah Sampson [[email protected]] and Andrew Sheivachman [[email protected]] curate the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

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Tags: business travel, ctir

Photo credit: Business travel to and from the UK has fallen this year, which some believe is a result of the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote. In this photo, crowds walk over the Millennium Bridge in London. Ben Cremin / Flickr

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