Introduction - Open to new ways of buying, experiencing and managing travel

These are exciting times for managed travel. CWT’s latest research shows that travelers and travel managers are open to new technologies when they offer a clear opportunity to work faster, smarter and better.

Travel managers and travelers are adapting to change

As the pace of technological change is accelerating, so is market readiness for new ways of buying, managing and experiencing travel.

Business travelers in particular not only want new services; they expect them. Travelers are influenced by their experience as consumers and they are ready technologically. They now carry a previously unimaginable amount of computing power with them via their mobile devices, as well as being fully equipped in their home and work offices. Using connected devices is easier than ever before, as broadband and Wi-Fi improve and the applications become more intuitive and even fun.

Travel managers are also welcoming new technologies and trends as opportunities to serve travelers better while helping them to reach their traditional goals of efficiency and savings.

This feedback emerged from an extensive CWT survey of travel managers and travelers, along with information provided by leading industry experts. Our study evaluated more than 15 different industry trends and technologies based on their relative maturity and perceived impact on managed travel. As a result, five key themes emerged: mobile technology, customization, the sharing economy, new booking solutions and new payment solutions.

What are the changes?

Many of these technologies or trends have been around for some time in the consumer market. What is new is the emergence of offerings geared toward corporate travelers (e.g. Uber for Business) and new versions of technology inspired by the leisure market but developed specifically for managed travel (e.g. mobile booking apps offered by travel management companies). A few solutions have been designed from the ground up with corporate clients in mind (e.g. single-use “virtual credit cards”). Some are evolving to offer more features and a better user experience, while others, such as wearable devices, are just emerging.

Figure 1: Emerging technologies and trends by maturity and their expected impact on managed travel

This changing landscape is giving rise to new concerns. While travelers want access to the latest tools that will make their lives easier is a given, they are wondering how their data privacy will be impacted, as well as quality of service, ease of use and safety. Travel managers are just as interested in understanding the impact of the latest technology, while focusing on managing change in their companies and keeping travelers in a policy-compliant travel environment. The majority of surveyed travel managers who rate the impact of new technologies and trends moderate to high (3+ on a scale of 1-5) either have firm plans to expand their programs to integrate them or are actively considering their options (35 percent and 38 percent respectively).

Figure 2: Travel manager plans to incorporate key trends into their travel programs

Figure 3: Timing of planned changes to travel programt

Most of those who are planning to make a change say they will do so in the next year (56 percent), while a further 42 percent plan to do so within two to five years.

What remains unchanged is how travel managers expect travel management companies (TMCs) to continue playing a key role in every area of their programs. As the available tools evolve, the fundamental challenges and goals still apply: managing travel as efficiently as possible to deliver savings, service and security.

Figure 4: Areas of TMC support

Travel managers continue to value the support provided by TMCs for integrating new trends and technologies, particularly with respect to reporting, analytics, optimization, content and compliance.

Meanwhile, travel management companies and suppliers are working with clients, partners and other market players to stay in tune with new trends and develop the services companies need. This often means safeguarding clients’ interests and providing input to help technology owners produce the right solutions.

This latest CWT research explores the key trends influencing managed travel in the five main areas identified: mobile technology, customization, the sharing economy, new booking solutions and new payment solutions. After assessing the expected impact, we share best practices and suggest ways for companies to make the most of these opportunities to provide value.

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