February 24, 2024

The shape of business travel

We take a peak at a new report from consultants Festive Road outlining eight key trends shaping travel management in 2022 and beyond

Business travel consultancy Festive Road has released a report this week detailing eight key trends it believes will shape travel management in 2022 and the next decade.

The report was created in collaboration with its own global team, clients and the wider industry community.

“The future of our sector has never been more challenging, nor more fascinating,” says the report.

Here we touch on the eight trends explored by ‘Festive Roaders’ in the report, which the company has made available to the whole industry.

Future of work: dispersed but not forgotten

“With a more dispersed workforce the travel demand naturally shifts,” said Aurélie Krau, Festive Roader UAE, who points to a shift in travel programmes from global weighting to regional or local influences, from air travel as the anchor to growth in accommodation and ground transport, and from transient travel to a rise in small meetings.

“For the first time in our history, we are at a junction where business travel meets mobility, meets with commute, meets virtual collaboration,” she says.

ESG at the purposeful core

“This critical decade represents a moment in time when organisations can take a proactive stance and balance people and planet alongside profit,” says Helen Hodgkinson, UK.

“There’s no doubt that the years ahead of us will see immense focus on ironing out the detail.”

Amid the urgency of protecting our planet, there is an opportunity for organisations and travel managers to re-imagine their programmes, but on the downside the spotlight on travel is a call to action against corporate over-consumption.

“The need for action is palpable and organisations are clearly taking note,” adds Hodgkinson

It was always about the meeting

A dispersed workforce drives a fundamental shift in meeting requirements and the pandemic has brought virtual, hybrid and multi-hub into the meetings management mainstream vernacular.

“The decade for a true strategic meetings and travel management programme has arrived,” says Meredith Smith, US.

The whole trip experience (at last)

“The silver lining of 2020 to 2021 is that the whole trip has moved into sharp focus,” says Nicola Lomas, UK.

“Tomorrow’s travellers set the rules of engagement. It’s truly time to connect all the critical elements that make up a business trip and put servicing the travellers as a programme priority.”

Dynamic content, the true king

“With priorities shifting to smarter, more purposeful trips, dynamic content will be a key enabler to align with both traveller and company objectives and the true king will reign,” says Katie Virtue, US, who predicts the coronation moment is close.

She believes dynamic content is the “next evolution” and will usher in personalisation, agile policy engines and a better shopping and on-trip experience, helped by API connections, machine learning and an “explosion” of micro-service providers.

API explosion brings buyer empowerment

API is about to explode, says Lora Ellis, US, bringing a landscape for the rise of micro-services, plus an expansion of TMC and online booking tool solutions.

API content also allows travel buyers to select suppliers for more than just price, widening considerations to products, payment methods and personalisation.

“Regardless of the chosen model, the API explosion will empower travel managers to bring programmes to life,” says Ellis.

Hail to the storytellers

While there is a plethora of data in the industry, the next decade will be about getting rich insights from this data.

“We’ve entered the era of the analyst as the lockpicker, the storyteller through the numbers,” says Mike Orchard, Australia.

“The data cruncher is cool, the storyteller is in ascendence.”

Take the lead or be directed

The spotlight has fallen on travel managers in the last two years as they rose to the pandemic challenges.

It has also demonstrated that travel functions can’t operate as an island. Travel managers must have support and buy-in from peers and senior stakeholders in order to reach their full potential.

Bring an ‘operational doer’ may no longer be enough, so now is the time for travel managers to “take a step back, be discerning in the projects taken on and turn strategic goals into critical reference questions”, says Louise Kilgannon, UK.

“How travel managers are perceived will be determined by the company they keep and the choices they make,” she explains.

“The Twenties are fast becoming a time to take the lead or find yourself being directed.”