Business Travel Outlook for 2018

March 16, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Things are looking good for business travel. According to a recent survey by The GO Group, LLC, a ground transportation company that operates shuttle services to over 90 airports, the percentage of respondents expecting to do more business travel is almost double what was anticipated in 2016 (27 percent vs 15 percent). A mere six percent of travelers thought they’d travel less.

This is a major change from 10 years ago, when the Great Recession, saw a major drop in business travel as well as vacation/personal travel. But as the economy has improved, consumer confidence is on the rise, business travel spending is up, and more people are hopping on board airplanes and staying in hotels around the country and throughout the world.

Business travel often means working in an airport between flights. This is a photo of a white MacBook Pro taken in the Hong Kong airport.And when travel dropped 10 years ago, we saw a big rise in unemployment in the travel industry — fewer business travel opportunities meant fewer airline passengers and hotel nights, which had a ripple effect on the entire industry.

When it improved, there were key gains felt throughout the world. According to a report from the World Travel & Tourism Council,

. . . travel and tourism directly contributed US$2.3 trillion and 109 million jobs worldwide. Taking its wider indirect and induced impacts into account, the sector contributed US$7.6 trillion to the global economy and supported 292 million jobs in 2016. This was equal to 10.2% of the world’s GDP, and approximately 1 in 10 of all jobs.

Similarly, GO Group President John McCarthy believes this anticipated uptick in travel should have a “huge impact on airlines, hotels, and related industries.” McCarthy sees this increase as having nothing but positive implications for those seeking jobs within both the travel and tourism sectors.

Although an equal percentage of the respondents (27 percent) expected to see no change in the amount of business travel they would do in 2018, 39 percent were unsure how their travel schedules would be affected by their companies’ growth strategies. But the term “growth strategies” is heartening enough to make us think travel will continue to rise.

What plans do you have for business travel in 2018? Are you going to increase, decrease, or keep it about the same? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page,  or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Mark Hillary (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Five Ways Business Travel is Changing in 2018

March 8, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Change is constant throughout life, and business travel is no exception. As we near the end of our first quarter of the year, we’re starting to see some changes in the way we’re approaching travel and the way the technology is changing how we get from Point A to Point B.

Lyft car with the signature pink mustache. This has become a popular mode of transportation for business travel.Sharing economies such as Airbnb, Uber, and Lyft have transitioned from independent rebels operating outside mainstream business to becoming accepted as helpful ways to accomplish business travel goals and keep budgets in line.

Because of the wide acceptance of these services, particularly among small business owners, an article on The Next Web wonders how these companies will expand. For example, in 2014, small business owners only chose Uber over taxis 1 in 3 times. As of the end of 2017, that had reversed, with Uber being the preferred choice 3 to 1. Airbnb has had a similar experience among the same demographic. In 2014, hotels were preferred to Airbnb properties 16 to 1, while just three years later, that ratio was only 6 to 1. It will be interesting to see how these ride sharing and hospitality service economies navigate saturation in the remainder of 2018.

Blockchain technology advances and the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are infiltrating marketplace transactions and this year could be a turning point in how it is accepted by the big players in the credit industry. In the final quarter of 2017, American Express, VISA, and MasterCard each announced its intentions to get in on the burgeoning tectonic shift in the way transactions are completed around the world.

One of the main reasons these three players are making moves to stake their claim in this Wild West of transaction technology is because blockchain transactions operate differently and outside of traditional banking systems. A decentralized network of computers has the ability to encrypt and maintain the integrity of a public ledger so that it is immune to hacking and fraud. Blockchain also allows individuals to conduct business without a middleman, such as a credit card company or bank, and this innovation has the potential to alter the landscape of how both businesses and citizens do business in significant ways.

While we are still a ways away from it being ubiquitous and part of the way everyone buys and sells goods and services, blockchain and Bitcoin’s use overseas is forcing banks and credit card companies to implement initiatives so they aren’t left behind.

Much faster than we expected and may be ready for, self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic concept. They’ll be operational in a limited number of cities as early as 2019, after Uber launched its first test fleet in 2016. Its recently-announced partnership with Volvo to add 24,000 such vehicles to its fleet, and Lyft’s partnership with Waymo to make similar advancements in its business strategy, self-driving cars are only going to increase the availability of another viable option for business travel very, very soon.

While it may still be some time before you’ll see a self-driving car pull up to the curb to take you where you need to go, artificial intelligence (AI) has already made significant inroads to the way we create itineraries online for business travel. Labeled “cognitive projects” in an IBM report of the business travel industry leaders, a third of all companies in this space are working on AI enhancements that will personalize the business traveler’s experience.

Whether you call it “interactive customer service” or a “chatbot” that pops up when you’re considering a specific flight itinerary, these cognitive projects are being designed to analyze large data sets and the preferences of other travelers in order to create an itinerary that appears to have been customized.

Business travelers may not even notice the influx of AI into the process, since the technology is being developed in such a way that it can converse in natural language with prospective customers in order to determine and meet their needs.

All of these changes are the result of the fact that there’s money to be made in business travel. According to the Global Business Travel Association, business travel is expected to increase by 6 percent this year, up from 3.5 percent in 2016. Increased trade worldwide and growth in both manufacturing and emerging markets are driving optimism. While this may be good for the economy, businesses will have to find creative ways to absorb or streamline the projected 3.5 and 3.7 percent increases, respectively, in airline tickets and hotel accommodations.

With all this potential for dramatic changes, the mature nature of the business travel industry will find ways to adjust and welcome these shifts because it knows they ultimately result in growth.

What plans do you have for communicating in an emergency? Do you have any plans or strategies already in place? Have you ever had to use them? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: PraiseLightMedia (Wikipedia, Creative Commons 4.0)

How to Do Business Travel like a Road Warrior

March 6, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

You may not spend three to five days each week traveling like a road warrior, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from their experience and get more out of your occasional trip.

First, rethink your idea of how you use a hotel room. They’re not just for overnight stays. With the app HotelQuando, you can rent a room (most hotel partners are located near the U.S’s busiest airports) for a few hours of shuteye between flights or use the privacy to finalize your thoughts as you prepare for an important meeting with clients.

TSA PreCheck sign showing the way to an empty pathway, next to a line packed with people. The road warrior often has PreCheck.The advantages of PreCheck are obvious when it comes to navigating airport terminals efficiently. The amortized cost of the $80 fee over its five year life more than makes up for the time (and money) you’d otherwise waste standing in line while you could be catching up on email or writing the draft for the deal you just negotiated. Even if you invest in PreCheck or its international counterpart, Global Entry, be sure to still allow enough time in your schedule for security lines. Controlling what you can will reduce your stress, and if you get through them faster, you have more time to sit and relax.

Speaking of being in control—things happen, and when they do, a road warrior knows who their first call is to: the customer service line for the airline they’ve used for years. Other times, it’s the travel agent who booked their itinerary; they’re paid to help their clients make the best of an unfortunate situation. You can book your own flights and accommodations, or let someone else keep track of your frequent flier number, car rental number, and other reservations. A road warrior often works with a travel agent, freeing themselves up to focus on client work and selling, rather than shopping for airline tickets and hotel rooms.

Finally, a road warriors never checks a bag. The business pros know that Travelpro® has multiple collections designed for them, with a variety of styles in the Platinum® Magna™ 2 and the Crew™ 11 Collections. Products range from the 2-wheeled Rollaboard® to Spinner models, carry-ons, backpacks, and rollaboard briefs, each with specific features that business professionals value. You can easily fit 7-10 days’ worth of outfits, depending on how well you mix and match and reuse your clothes by carrying on and you never have to wait for a checked bag or risk getting it lost.

Do you have any road warrior travel tips? How do you save time and make your life easier on the road? Leave your ideas for us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Grant Wickes (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

What to Do in an Emergency While You’re Traveling

February 27, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

When Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest airport, experienced a catastrophic power failure due to a fire this past December, 30,000 people were affected. If you were stranded somewhere due to a local emergency or natural disaster, do you have a plan in place for letting colleagues, friends, and family know of your safety and whereabouts?

While it may seem obvious that you could text, call, or take to social media to let those important to you know you’re okay, there are other alternatives you might want to consider as a backup plan if needed.

If you’re fortunate to have access to the Internet, contacting coworkers, friends, and relatives can be achieved through the aforementioned options as well as the check-in feature on Facebook.

Hospital Emergency sign in big red lettersThis function became increasingly useful and popular during the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando and the Las Vegas concert shooting. Facebook was able to use a mobile phone’s location finder app, ask users if they were safe, and they could mark themselves as safe, putting friends’ and families’ minds at rest from hundreds of miles away.

But what if an incident were to strand you overseas or you weren’t on social media? There are other methods you can use, such as apps that work on wifi or cellular signals. Apps like Skype for phone calls, WhatsApp and Voxer for texting work on mobile phones or even an iPad or iPod Touch with wifi capabilities. And of course, if you have access to a laptop or Internet cafe, you can always send a quick message that way.

However you decide to get in touch with your loved ones, you should have a plan in place before you travel so that those you leave behind will know how they’ll hear from you in the event of a local emergency. Here’s one suggested protocol. Feel free to establish one that works best for you.

  • Designate one person as your main contact.
  • Provide that person a list of others they should contact once they hear from you.
  • Decide if you want your main contact to broadcast your status via social media or private channels.
  • Let those on that list know who you have put in charge of letting them know of your status.

If you have a basic emergency plan in place, you can easily let people know via simple electronic technology.

But if worse comes to worse, you can always find a phone booth and call someone collect.

What plans do you have for communicating in an emergency? Do you have any plans or strategies already in place? Have you ever had to use them? Tell us about it in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: FreeGreatPicture.com (Creative Commons 0, Public Domain)

Business Travel Habits by Generation

February 20, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

When we think about business travel habits, we generally believe that the aspects of it don’t vary much from person to person. Hop in the car or on a plane, go to your destination, do your thing, and go home. This is how travel works in the most basic sense, and for decades, this is how the business travel industry has worked — on a one-size-fits-all basis.

But when Carlson Wagonlit Travel surveyed Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials with regard to their business travel habits and preferences, some very interesting distinctions emerged.

Solo vs Group Travel. It seems that Millennials prefer traveling in groups, more than Baby Boomers: nearly six out of 10 Millennials prefer to travel with someone else, while as many as 70 percent of Boomers will travel alone. Meanwhile, 58 percent of Gen X-ers will travel alone, and they’re less likely to travel with a colleague or family member.

An older man holding a newspaper waiting for a car to pass. Different generations approach their business travel differently.Safety Issues Personal safety is a big issue for Millennials. According to the survey 29 percent of them have canceled a business trip over concerns for their safety, while 20 percent of Gen X-ers have, and only 12 percent of Boomers. Those two groups are more willing to get on the ground and get specifics, particularly if they’re already familiar with the area and where the unrest is taking place in relation to where they will be.

Communication. When it comes to communication with family, colleagues, and clients once per day, Boomers just aren’t as interested in it: only 29 percent of them will keep in touch with anyone from home. But 38 percent of Gen X-ers will keep in touch, as will 45 percent of Millennials. The 18 –29 generation are more likely to turn to Skype while the Boomers will just pick up the phone. But all of them will use email almost equally when it comes to business communication with clients and colleagues.

Business travel habits may vary from generation to generation, but businesses and business travelers need to figure out how they want to deal with those differences. Should businesses require people to travel in groups more often, especially for personal safety? Is it more beneficial or a hassle to ask one generation to travel more like another? Or do you just let everyone follow their personal preferences as long as it doesn’t create disharmony around the office?

Share your comments with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Skitterphoto (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)

AI to Change the Hassles of Travel

February 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

With the simple scan of a traveler’s facial features, many air travel hassles could be eliminated or at least reduced. But we may not be as far away from that reality as you think. According to a survey conducted by air transport communications firm SITA, 29 percent of airports and 25 percent of air carriers are working toward implementing this technology in order to streamline passenger navigation through security, customs, and boarding by 2020.

We reported last month about the test runs of fingerprint scanning to alleviate time spent waiting in lines at several American airports, but due to the steady increase in travel worldwide — a 7.4 percent increase from 2015 to 2016 — the need for more efficient processes to move the masses as well as enhance security is only too obvious.

This is the kind of AI-based security that could get you through travel security checkpoints.Here’s how it may work, as Sumesh Patel, SITA’s Asia Pacific president, explained to CNBC: Travelers would go to a face-scanning kiosk upon arriving at the airport. The captured biometric information would be matched to the person’s passport specs. At that point, an electronic token would be created and inputted into the airport’s system. At subsequent security checkpoints, the technology would be used again in order to match the passenger’s identity with the electronic token.

The major boon for travelers would be the elimination of the current, intrusive nature of the security system. The current challenge, however, is integrating the existing systems such as retinal and fingerprint scanning and facial recognition into one secure operating network that will not only help customers but provide sufficient data for border protection for countries. You only have to hear about all the data breaches at major retailers and even credit scoring agencies to know how important this is.

While this may sound futuristic, Dubai International Airport’s CEO Paul Griffiths, head of the world’s busiest airport, is absolutely convinced a system of this nature will be a reality within the next 10 years.

“Most of the touch points that we currently loathe about airports today — the security and immigration — will disappear. And technology will enable all of those checks to be done in the background,” Griffiths told CNBC.

What do you think about this new technology? Are you for it, or a little concerned? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Gerald Nino/CPB (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

More Companies Allowing Business Travelers to Use Sharing Economies

January 30, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Business travelers who have taken an Uber or Lyft instead of hailing a taxi, or stayed at an Airbnb property instead of staying at a hotel chain, you’re among a growing majority of employees whose companies are encouraging using the emerging sharing economies.

According to a survey conducted by Chrome River Technologies, an expense and invoice management technology solutions company, 78 percent of companies with 1,000 or more employees allow their travelers to use ride-sharing services, while 68 percent allow home-sharing services.

The company asked 100 chief financial officers, controllers, and treasurers at 100 U.S.-based companies for this data in order to determine how much freedom corporations provide their employees when they travel for business.

The instantly recognizable pink mustache of a Lyft car. It's becoming a favorite method of travel among business travelers.

The instantly recognizable pink mustache of a Lyft car.

“Corporate travel and expense policies should be agile enough to address the ever-changing nature of business travel. It’s refreshing to see that larger organizations have already incorporated sharing economy services into their policies,” Alan Rich, Chrome River CEO, said in a statement.

While less than one-quarter of the officers surveyed said their company doesn’t have any policy regarding the use of sharing economy services, 17 percent have instituted policies that don’t allow the use of ride-hailing services, and 24 percent prohibit their employees from booking accommodations through home-sharing platforms. Perhaps even more surprising were the percentages regarding the mandating of such services: 13 percent of companies require their people to use ride-sharing apps, while 12 percent have dictated that travelers must use home-sharing instead of hotels for lodging.

The implementation of rules and policies for reimbursement and reporting of expenses related to these services follows the rising trend among leisure travelers. The survey data shows some are still hesitant to utilize such options.

Does your company allow you to use sharing economy accommodations or are you limited to just traditional hotel and travel brands? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Praiselightmedia (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)

Airbnb Announces New Tool Strictly for Business Travelers

January 23, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’ve booked a room, apartment, or home through Airbnb for leisure travel and you’re considering how you might use the home-sharing platform for business accommodations, you’ll be happy to know that Airbnb has a new search function/program specifically for business travelers.

Categorized as Business Travel Ready (BTR), available properties must have a designated workspace or desk, wifi, and 24-hour check-in, although many of them often boast other amenities. The search function also highlights entire homes available for short-term use so that teams can share accommodations or individuals can have the entire space to themselves.

In order to access the BTR properties, you must link a work email address to the Airbnb account — so no Gmail, Hotmail, etc. It has to be your work email. You can sign up as a business traveler through airbnb.com/business-travel-ready, and you’re ready to find your next business travel lodging.

An Airbnb house in Santa Barbara California; they have a new tool for business travelers.

An Airbnb house in Santa Barbara, California

he has 150,000 properties listed globally, and 250,000 companies are using the site. According to a story on Travelpulse.com, David Holyoke, CEO of Airbnb’s business travel department, expected the number of people using the site for business purposes to quadruple in 2017.

While only 10 percent of their bookings are business related, the amount U.S. businesses spent on travel expenses topped $290 billion last year, and was expected to increase by more than four percent last year.

In 2016, the company achieved an industry first when it partnered with American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), BCD Travel, and Carlson Wagonlit Travel to add home-sharing accommodations to its traditional corporate travel offerings.

Have you used Airbnb for business travel? Would you do so now that they have improved their business offerings? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Should You Let Business Travelers Book on their Own?

January 16, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

What kind of trouble could business travelers get in if you cut out the corporate travel arranger at your company and booked your own business travel? Is it encouraged, or are you required to use the corporate travel office at all costs? The ubiquitous nature of apps and websites for locating budget hotels, ride-sharing options, and flights make it easy for people to take charge of their own travel logistics.

This is something corporate accountants and managers are having to choose whether to accommodate or penalize, and the problem is only growing.

While having someone else attend to your travel arrangements used to be a luxury, a bigger issue is that those doing the booking may know nothing about the city, the proximity of the airport to the client, and the logistics required to get from the client to the hotel they’ve booked. The person who makes that kind of trip on a regular basis is by far the more knowledgeable authority on the subject, which makes him or her the logical choice to make the arrangements.

Business travelers walking through an airport. You can still fly even if you're trimming your travel budget.But companies are concerned that letting business travelers book their own travel arrangements may give them less leverage when negotiating corporate rates for hotels and car rentals if they can’t show that their personnel is using them.

However, according to research by Egencia, the corporate travel management subsidiary of Expedia, business travelers often book outside their company’s stated travel policy, especially when procuring lodging, because they need to be closer to their client or because they found a better price than their company’s corporate rate and can pocket the per diem difference.

Road warriors need freedom to orchestrate their own itineraries in order to maximize their time out of the office. Giving them this latitude would reduce staff overhead, eliminate confusion, and utilize the business traveler’s knowledge of the cities and the accommodations in each. Why should a travel manager who doesn’t travel tell the employee where to stay and what time to get there? There are times that road warrior may end up cooling their heels for several hours in an unfamiliar airport because the corporate travel agent wanted to save $30 or make sure their traveler used the right airline.

For those who have control over the details of their travel budget, TravelBank has produced an app that helps estimate trip costs and customize their trip to anticipate and respond to upcoming expenses. TravelBank even rewards users when their trips come in under budget. For example, when a user’s bottom line comes in $500 under the budget, they receive $250 in credit to use with its partners in the travel industry with whom they’ve negotiated rates that rival those that corporations procure for their employees.

At Travelpro, we have the best of both worlds. I investigate my own schedule — optimal flight times and finding the hotel that’s closest to the client — and then communicating that to our travel manager and asking that they make every effort to book what I’ve requested. So far, it’s worked out great, and I’ve been very happy with the arrangement.

As long as business travelers know and comply with the company’s travel policy, allowing them to secure their own reservations only makes sense. But it also makes sense to let your road warrior experts blaze their own trail, as it were, because they already know what they’re doing.

Business travelers, o you book your own travel or do you have a corporate travel agent doing it for you? What has been the most efficient use for you? Share your ideas with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: MauriceBMueller (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

How Tech Has Transformed Business Travelers’ Productivity

January 9, 2018 by · 1 Comment 

If you were taking bets on whether business travelers would say their time on the road boosted their productivity, would you wager that a large percentage says it does? Or do you think most people say their travels have cut into their productivity?

If you said the former, you’d be right. According to a survey by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, 80 percent of business travelers claim that technology has greatly increased their ability to get work done while away from the office.

(Part of it may also be from not having to attend so many meetings.)

Many business travelers take their laptops with them to get work done.With a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop — the top three “travel tools” business travelers declared they couldn’t live without — no longer do people lament over lost time spent en route to clients. The advent of wifi in the sky and almost everywhere in between, downtime is almost a thing of the past. Business travelers utilize flight time and layovers, as well as time in hotel rooms to catch up on correspondence, complete proposals, and send documents wirelessly to keep projects on schedule.

“The business traveler can be so much more productive than even five years ago thanks to technology,” said Simon Nowroz, Carlson Wagonlit Travel’s CMO told Travelpulse.com, a travel news site. “Think about the advances where a business traveler used to have so much down time between a flight, taxi and hotel. Now, they can log in and work while on the plane or wherever they happen to be. With the continued emergence of the tablet, as well as numerous apps, travelers don’t feel out of touch as they carry out business.”

This ability to continue working whenever and wherever has prompted many — 78 percent — to actively seek ways to travel for business. Nearly nine of 10 survey respondents also claimed that they gained significant knowledge and perspective as a result of their business travels.

How do these road warriors stay connected while away from the office? Email is still the prevalent method of communication with 44 percent selecting it as their primary means of keeping in touch. Surprisingly, nearly 24 percent make phone calls while only 14 percent prefer to text important information to those back at the office.

Three other modes of technology cited as helpful in maintaining connectedness with loved ones were phone calls (44 percent), Skype (24 percent), and texting (14 percent).

Business travelers, do you stay more productive when you’re on the road? Or do you find that you lose productive work time because of time in the car or in the air? How do you stay in touch with loved ones and the office while you’re traveling? Share your ideas with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: ChrisDag (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

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