We’re almost halfway through 2017.
Take a moment for that to sink in.
Still there? In that case, read these trends that we’re betting will become the mainstay of business and leisure travel from this point forward. (Some of these have been around for a while but thankfully don’t show signs of going anywhere).
1. The sharing economy
Just a couple of years ago, few people could have predicted just how huge Uber would get, or just how fast. But the impact of these sharing economy ‘start-ups’ continues to grow.
According to Certify, taxis and car rentals are in sharp decline, as nearly half of all ground transportation rides are now hailed via apps like Uber and Lyft. It’s great news for travel budgets, and also streamlines things like expenses and accounts by digitising payments and receipts. What’s more, as business travellers get more and more used to managing their trip via apps, it’s more important than ever for travel companies to go mobile. Customers expect easy-to-use, central platforms that give them visibility and control.
2. Remote working
Guess where I’m writing this blog post right now? On the train to London Waterloo, using Southwest Train’s WiFi service.
This isn’t unique. In the past few months, I’ve jumped on free WiFi to crack on with work on night buses across Cambodia, at the airport in Vienna and at the tiniest cafe in Istanbul. WiFi is now part of the standard business travel experience – which will only continue to fuel the remote working trend.
Increasingly, we all work on the move and we expect to be able to connect when and where we need to, without paying extra.
In fact, recent research by the GBTA found that three-quarters of business travellers consider WiFi on the go to be vital to their productivity, and 25% feel that a lack of reliable WiFi access is the single most frustrating part of any trip.
The importance of reliable free WiFi throughout the travel journey can’t be underestimated; second only perhaps to electricity, it’s a modern day necessity. Any hotel worth your consideration should provide this as standard - and look out for travel options, including train providers and airports, that offer this, too.
3. Pivot to China
All the evidence suggests that the Asian outbound travel boom will continue all through next year, particularly when it comes to business travellers from China and India. Business travel in China is growing at an astounding rate, with spending shooting up by over 16% per year - far outpacing the rest of the world. It’s likely that many travel companies, airlines and hotels will soon find that visitors from these countries make up a sizeable chunk of their clientele.
What does that mean? Well, logically, it would make sense for these companies to adapt their approach, marketing and offering to better suit the Chinese and other Asian markets.
Meanwhile, if you’re a company based in a country like the UK and you deal regularly with Asian companies, it also means you may have more and more travel options at your disposal. It also means you may have less pressure to handle all the costs of business travel, since there’s increasing appetite for your Chinese and other Asian partners, clients, suppliers and so on to come to you.
4. Cost-Savvy Business Travel
Perhaps the most important travel trend for 2017 is this: people are even less likely to splash the cash (even if they’re travelling on their company card). In fact, some companies are even rewarding employees who choose the affordable options when travelling for business.
Gone are the days of unlimited expense accounts - today, it’s all about finding the best value option, whether that’s bag-free travel, low-cost carriers or great deals for loyal customers.
If you want to compete, you need to show you’re working hard to get the best deal - and if you’re responsible for booking business travel, you can add real value to your organisation by working with a partner that will help you maximise your budget.
Our top tip? Always shop around for hotel prices for each and every trip – unless you have a relationship with a vendor who can guarantee you the best rates.
Check out our European city guides for top tips from locals at your destination. (It might even save you a Euro or two!)