There’s no shortage of statistics or soundbites related to the difficulties facing corporate travel, the airline industry, and the global economy. Most recovery scenarios are looking at a two-year timeline, minimum.
Travel managers, agencies, and airlines need to balance realism about the near term with preparation for the long term. Some localized business trips are taking place, and even a small amount of international travel as well. While air capacity is significantly down on previous years, there are still passengers for airlines to service and travel to be managed.
Many trends which deserved attention before the pandemic are still worth considering, while some are now even more prominent on the corporate to- do list. Omnichannel distribution – “buy anywhere, service anywhere” – meets road warriors’ demands to be able to book how they want and meets travel managers’ desire for visibility into all bookings, independent of channel.
Travel management companies are masters of reinvention. New business and commercial models, collaborations, and partnerships are needed. Business travelers themselves will return to the skies with a different set of priorities and considerations, which the travel management companies will need to service.
Innovation will continue across all areas of corporate life, from new use cases for the new distribution capability (NDC) to flexible policy. There will be innovation from data scientists as well as product teams. Businesses which have been platformed to access real-time data and make instant decisions will have an edge. Connecting with enterprise technology providers and microservices can help reinforce their competitive advantage.
This Skift report, commissioned by ARC, features interviews with airline leaders, data specialists, travel managers, and travel management companies, sharing their assessment of the current state of play and thoughts about the future direction of airline retailing within the corporate travel arena.