Skift Take

Erratic weather and emerging technologies alike are creating a more complex corporate travel ecosystem.

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.

With devastating hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes hitting North America in recent weeks, it’s time to take a look at the effect of weather and natural disasters on corporate travel.

We found that extreme weather is taking a serious toll on travelers and travel companies. If trends continue, the effect of these disruptions will only get worse in coming years — and travel managers need to be preparing for that possibility.

On the technology side this week, we spoke to Paul English, the founder of travel service app Lola, about the company’s pivot to business travel. Business travelers want the convenience of chat communication combined with concierge service, he says. It’ll be interesting if artificial intelligence-based chat services catch on among business travelers.

Finally, we delved into a new report from the Global Business Travel Association showing that travelers hate wasting time in transit and layovers (as if you didn’t already know this). The question remains: If business travelers hate long trips, why are they taking so many and what can be done to improve their experience?

— Andrew Sheivachman, Senior Writer 

Business of Buying

Global Business Travelers Agree the Biggest Hassle Is Time Spent in Transit: Every business traveler hates delays and annoying layovers. There are pronounced regional differences in the value business travelers perceive during and after a trip, though. Read more at Skift

American and United Raise Forecasts as Impact From Fare Wars May Be Less Than Expected: United and American may be seeing some relief from fare wars with low-cost carriers, but it is too soon to tell if they are out of the woods yet. Read more at Skift

EasyJet Plans to Capitalize on Rivals’ Woes: How quickly things can change in the airline business. Only a few months ago it was EasyJet that was struggling. Now EasyJet stands to benefit from problems at some of its closest competitors. Read more at Skift

First Class Is Shrinking but Here’s Why It Remains Important: First class is becoming more rarified as carriers emphasize dense business class configurations. But the most exclusive product does still play a role for well-heeled customers and the marketing departments of top carriers. Read more at Skift

Bankrupt Air Berlin Ready to End Flights in Late October: Air Berlin will end its flights at the end of the month, while its subsidiaries will continue to operate. It’s still unclear what exactly will transpire in the next few weeks as Lufthansa and EasyJet bid to carve up the airline into pieces. Read more at Skift

Safety + Security

Why Corporate Travel Needs to Prepare for Wilder Weather: The recent hurricanes are expected to have mostly short-term impacts on business travel and economic forecasts, but they exposed serious weaknesses in companies’ preparations for disruption caused by extreme weather. Read more at Skift

Disruption + Innovation

Lufthansa Partners With a Blockchain Provider in an Investment Worth Testing: It is easy to see why Lufthansa, which sells flights and ancillary services, would be interested in blockchain. Airlines, hotels, and tour operators might be able to use blockchain to dramatically reduce their distribution costs. At this stage, it is hard to tell how close this is to being a reality, and how fearful online travel agents and others should be. Read more at Skift

Why Online Travel Agencies Will Line Up Against Blockchain Adoption: The online travel agencies — as the Apex Predators and beneficiaries at the top of the current distribution scheme — aren’t likely to rush in to invest in a technology that democratizes access to travel content. Read more at Skift

How Augmented Reality Will Impact Meetings and Events: Move over virtual reality, there’s a new reality taking over at meetings, conferences, and events. Augmented reality has the potential to change the way people see events — literally. Read more at Skift

Airline Data Powerhouse Needs to Evolve as Fast as Airfares Have: The fare-filing clearinghouse ATPCO needs to adapt to airline distribution’s rapid changes. Much depends on whether its new CEO can boost the organization’s metabolism. Read more at Skift

Lola Pivot to Business Travel Is All About the App: Lola’s push into business travel makes sense given the needs and booking frequency of experienced road warriors. But as Upside has experienced, attracting the right kind of users is a big challenge when travelers can just book trips themselves. Read more at Skift

Amadeus Wins Air Canada Contract as It Digs In Deeper in North America: With this deal, the Madrid-based technology giant has scored another win in North America, after having finished moving Southwest Airlines to Amadeus’ reservations platform earlier this year. Read more at Skift


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: blockchain, business travel, corporate travel, ctir, lola

Photo credit: Extreme weather is becoming more of a headache for corporate travel. This photo from early September shows a list of canceled flights at Miami International Airport as Hurricane Irma approached. Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

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