BCD Travel has asked its technology and business experts about their predictions for business travel in the future. Although there are more and more reasons to travel less for work, the number of business trips seems to increase.
times of digitization and international terrorism in which organizations are increasingly paying attention to their costs and their ecological footprint, there seem to be the only reasons to travel less for work. Nevertheless, we travel more and more often, says Jean-François De Mol (photo), sales development leader at BCD Travel. And that will not change soon in the future.
BCD Travel helps organizations to use their travel budgets in the most effective way. This means concretely: ensuring that passengers can travel safely, be productive on the road and make the right choices. BCD Group is the market leader in the Benelux and active worldwide in more than 108 countries. It has more than 14,000 employees and a total turnover of 26.4 billion dollars.
‘For many people, there is also a certain status associated with traveling for work’
Human contact and status:
‘Our sector is undeniably subject to political changes and climate change and as a result, the company will start asking questions about their distant trips: is it really necessary for us to fly? Do we have to go with three people or can someone do it too? ‘ says De Mol, who knows the world of business travel through and through with over twenty years of experience at BDC Travel.
‘Organizations mainly pay attention to travel less internally and opt for web conferences, whose quality always improves, as an alternative. For contact with clients, for business development and prospecting, human contact is still necessary and we will, therefore, continue to travel, ‘says De Mol. ‘But companies are increasingly looking at the train for shorter trips. If you want to go from Brussels to the center of Frankfurt, the work is better off with the high-speed train than with the plane. The journey takes longer than the flight, but the entire journey time is much shorter by train. ‘
‘For many people, a certain status is also associated with travel for work. Our attitude is double, we sigh and complain about traveling and see it as a waste of time, but they can not take it all away from us either. ‘
The future has already begun:
Technological changes also have an impact on business travel and especially on how we organize it. ‘We can fully book our trips digitally, 24 hours a day, on online platforms that fully integrate both booking a flight and reserving a hotel or a car on the spot,’ says De Mol. “You see the industry changing before your eyes. Airport buses, mobile check-in at hotels, AI-driven signposts in transfer zones: the future has begun, ‘predicts Miriam Moscovici, Emerging Technologies Director at BCD Travel.
‘While a holidaymaker usually only has a contract with a travel agency once or twice a year, that is for a business traveler and his travel management company (TMC) several times a year.
This repeated and valuable contact is an important reason for TMCs to invest in personalizing the experience of business travelers. ‘ Airports also respond to this. ‘Brussels Airport, for example, is a very modern airport and does a lot to personalize the journey. But it continues to seek a balance between digitization and personalization on the one hand and security and the protection of personal data on the other, ‘De Mol adds.
“The search for a personalized travel experience translates into travel planning solutions with more relevant options that respond more accurately to the needs of the traveler,” says Moscovici. ‘It’s all about functionality and relevance. A business traveler does not want a hundred options when planning his trip. He wants the few best options based on previous bookings, other travelers in similar situations and current market conditions. ‘
Trends in the near future:
For the near future, BCD Travel predicts some trends in business travel. ‘KLM and Lufthansa are testing how they can provide WiFi on long flights. That’s going to happen anyway, “says De Mol. ‘Where the time in the air is currently seen as rest or relaxation, work in flight will continue in the future.’
Furthermore, business travel and private travel are getting closer together: in the end, we are all consumers. Business travelers expect the same booking experience, hotel options and service for private trips as for their business trips.
Digitization and the Internet of Things also offer many opportunities to simplify business travel. Conferma, the market leader in virtual payments, sees the number of bookings with a virtual credit card doubling each year. ‘Virtual payments are becoming more and more common and at the same time payments with credit cards are being scrutinized for security reasons,’ says De Mol.
At Uber or Lyft you pay invisibly, and automatic check-in at a hotel means that you no longer have to go to reception to collect your key or pay the bill. Moscovici: ‘Integrated technology is becoming smarter and more connected, especially in the field of transfers, travel, and logistics. Sensors and beacons on important transfer hubs such as train stations and airports simplify navigation and improve the flow of people. You see more luggage with smart tags so you can trace where your suitcase is … The possibilities are endless. ‘