Change appears to be accelerating in managed travel, with each major technological shift generating further innovation as the industry adapts its expectations and behavior. Much has been said about the consumerization of managed travel and how travelers are adopting new apps and tools inspired by the leisure sector, while catching onto widespread trends such as the sharing economy. It is clear travelers accept change readily when it makes their lives easier, even if they might express some concerns with the unknown, such as the potential impact on data security and privacy.
Similarly, travel managers are open to new ways and means of reaching their objectives, which remain focused on providing employees with cost-effective, efficient and safe service. But they are also cautious. Although new technologies and trends tend to come with the promise of a faster, better and smarter experience for all concerned, they often present challenges at the same time. (Figure 40 on Page 60 suggests a basic framework for travel managers to stay ahead of new technologies and trends).
In our increasingly connected world, working closely with the right partners seems more than ever the right approach. We see proof in every area and at every level of the supply chain, from sharing economy brands such as Airbnb sharing tracking data with emergency service providers, to stakeholders from across the travel industry helping IATA to introduce its new distribution capability for airline inventory.
As always, TMCs not only work alongside corporate clients to provide day-to-day support but they also cooperate with leaders inside and outside the travel industry to advocate changes that can have a positive impact on managed travel programs. CWT, for example, has created a dedicated team to build a community of innovators from all areas of the industry. This team, Corporate Innovation or "Corp-i", is creating processes to facilitate innovation at CWT, while engaging more widely with entrepreneurs, universities, suppliers and clients to embrace open innovation and drive positive change in travel (see www.cwtinnovation.com).
These are exciting times indeed. As noted in this report, the trends and developments we see today are just the beginning of even better things to come...