Businesses are more connected than ever before, with teams working around the globe. Even with video conference as a go-to, many businesses still need their people on the ground, at customer sites, subsidiary offices and project locations to get work done.
Business travel is a big part of commercial life and despite advances in technology, Travel Managers still find themselves depending on scattered corporate travel management strategies and tools. Thankfully, one of the trends we can expect to see in 2019 is a move towards refined, purpose-built solutions for hotel booking and business travel expense management.
Here are the five business travel trends that are set to change the way your business travels.
1. Technology advances bring better rate options
Until recently, smart businesses negotiated with their most frequently used hotel chains to lock in preferential rates for their travelling workforce. However, with advances in online booking engine technology, pre-negotiated rates may not always be the best option.
While tying down your hotel rates for a 12-month period may seem like a solid strategy, these negotiated rates don’t account for the changes in occupancy, supply, and demand which occur across the year.
Advances in booking engine technology means that hotel booking platforms can return the best available rate in real-time and benchmark against the negotiated rate, so that you’re truly seeing the best value. Much of the emerging tech is taking advantage of advances in machine learning and AI to provide smarter automated solutions that are taking the manual onus away from already-overstretched travel bookers.
And with better data available to businesses who use a dedicated hotel booking engine, they can quickly analyse the situation to bridge the gap in hotel pricing strategies for bookers.
2. Duty of care and cybersecurity are modern risks for travellers
The UK is projected to see a 50 percent proliferation of remote workers by 2020. Given that remote-working and work-related travel are increasing at such pace, businesses need to be on the pulse when it comes to duty of care.
On top of that, data security remains a top concern within organisations. Protecting employees’ devices from physical and digital data theft will be a challenge that requires organisational buy-in too, so prepare to get educated and put procedures in place.
3. Business travel continues to eat into budgets
There’s no running from the fact that rising costs are hurting Travel Managers’ budgets.
In 2019, hotel costs are estimated to rise by 3.7 percent worldwide so be prepared for another hike. 3.7 percent might not seem massive, but if your workforce travels a lot, that cost will soon climb.
It’s leaving companies in a tough spot, though many are expected to look to digital solutions to try and find extra margins.
4. A mobile world gives way to booking on the go
Scattered business travel management strategies are associated with clunky, confusing processes. It’s a liability that won’t work long-term given how mobile the workforce is becoming.
Employees expect a streamlined, simplified process when it comes to booking hotels and Office Managers are tasked with providing it. On the other hand, it’s a demand that’s impossible to support within many businesses that still rely on spreadsheets or pen and paper.
Organisations can merge the best of both worlds by adopting corporate travel solutions that provide the detailed oversight and analytics that Office Managers need, while still accommodating the ease of use required by today’s workforce.
5. SMEs are gaining access to specialised tools to give them the competitive edge
The day-to-day in every office is different, with myriad potential tasks to complete – but one thing remains paramount: companies of all sizes are looking for advanced, specialised tools and technology to streamline processes and make their lives easier.
The culmination of the business travel trends in 2019 points towards one common theme: find the right platforms for specific jobs. For example, business hotel booking solutions for booking, managing, and paying for business hotels, which give businesses the power to get the best hotel rates, a centralised hub of hotel choices, better reporting, and financial options, such as credit and consolidated invoicing.
In a business world that relies on movement, companies can’t afford to stand still and ignore the value in purpose-built corporate solutions, especially when it comes to booking, managing and paying for workforce hotel accommodation – and the trends suggest they won’t.