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What are business travel trends?

Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, spend associated with business travel had steadily risen year on year and had expected to grow to be worth $1.7 trillion in 2022. Emerging 2020 business travel trends relate to finance, global changes in the economy, environment and climate, and wellness. The trends in 2020 include an enhanced focus on several key areas to follow.

2020 business travel trends

Fluctuating travel costs and the subscription economy

Naturally, this is an annual trend with costs a predictable variable, but there are a number of factors that will make this especially significant in 2020. Transaction-based pricing will come under increased pressure in particular causing unease on the buyer side and a wider market shift to other economic models, such as subscription-based pricing models.

The effects of global economic uncertainty

On one level, climate changes and a global increase in natural disasters will disrupt travel plans and could pose a risk to employees traveling. Early events in 2020 like the spread of the coronavirus and the wildfires in Australia are just two examples of natural disasters that have impacted people’s daily lives both personally and for work, with disruptions including mass flight cancellations and potential health risks to citizens and employees travelling. Beyond this, there are also emerging effects of gendered travel safety challenges and political changes and instability.

Dominance of customer relationship management

Beyond improving the employee travel experience, companies can use emerging technologies to better manage their travel spend and leverage it as a key initiative for business growth. By gaining further insight into expenditure and the subsequent value to the business, companies will be able to better understand factors like customer acquisition costs (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLTV).

Sustainability as a moral imperative

As climate change continues to be a major global risk and discussion point, the business travel industry is increasingly focused on travelling in a way that is environmentally conscious. As younger, ethos-driven generations begin to dominate the workforce, they’ll be attracted to companies that share similar missions around sustainability – and businesses that fail to demonstrate a level of care won’t be competitive in the search for talent.

The rise of blended business and leisure travel (or ‘bleisure’)

“Bleisure” – the practice of combining business trips with leisure – has been rising for the past several years. 80% of corporate travellers want to take part in personal activities during business trips, and almost half of business trips are extended for leisure purposes and activities. However, employee expectations about the support that a business should provide for bleisure are increasing and many employees want bleisure to be added to the corporate travel policy.

The productivity drain of expense fatigue and financial wellness in the workplace

Technology to support the process of expense reporting is evolving and can provide real benefits and opportunities for businesses that require their employees to travel often. Many are concerned about the traveller experience in terms of ease and convenience of travel but often forget how poor expense management is having an adverse affect on workplace experiences. 2020 will see business leaders starting to demand more on this in order to retain talent and increase productivity.

While this article served as a high-level overview, all of these topics are covered in depth through our whitepaper on the topic.

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