As always, GBTA’s annual convention showcased new innovations, trends, and wealth of hot topics for industry consideration. Here are our thoughts for the forthcoming year of areas to keep an eye on and trends that are certain to create new and exciting opportunities.
The topic of female traveler security is on the rise in many companies. 68% of female travelers surveyed in AIG research stated that their companies should have policies to address female travel security needs, while 52% say their organizations say that their companies offer safety suggestions. More and more, the female traveler is looking for their organizations to view and see their needs differently than their male counterparts. GBTA announced Monday the acquisition of Women in the Travel Industry (WINit), a career development network aimed at increasing visibility, mobility, and development for women in the travel, meeting, events and exhibition industries. This acquisition will enhance the ability to support women in the travel industry.
Getting Artificial: The Potential for More Effective Travel Management
Artificial Intelligence (AI, or more accurately called machine learning), bots, and new technologies are changing the way travel transactions and trip records are managed and handled. PwC suggests over 54% of businesses are making substantial investments in AI. AI requires buyers to think differently about managed travel in several areas, including; 1) Predictive technology to determine flight disruption patterns; 2) Profiling travelers to improve their travel experience, and 3) manage travel costs. Buyers will continue to see AI change and improve their programs in the future.
OBT Integration with Preferred Suppliers
Newsflash: loyalty programs are here to stay and travelers love them – so the next phase of category management will be alignment, where appropriate, with managed travel programs. Gaining improvements in the traveler experience by utilizing existing loyalty programs (again, as always, when appropriate) creates traveler satisfaction gains, delivers market share, and creates stronger partnerships.
Managing Travel in a New Millennial Age
Millennials and Gen Z in the workforce are driving changes in the way policies are written, enforced, and communicated. As travel managers continue to witness a migration into a younger workforce base of travelers, they will need to modify and adapt to communicate more effectively with Millennials and Gen Z travelers. While communication is more important than ever, savvy buyers must find a way to offer as many channels as possible: annual “big bang” surveys (owned by buyers rather than suppliers) and social are key.
Virtual Payments are a Continuing Trend This Year
More buyers are deploying virtual payment programs to individuals for their ease of use, and the benefits it brings in reducing fraud and easing the burden of the reconciliation process. Citing improvement in the traveler experience, process efficiency in the managed travel workflow and better spend insights, virtual payment is here to stay.
Merging Travel and Meetings
Integrating travel and meetings is slowly progressing; however many businesses have not yet combined the two areas. Businesses are now investing heavily in integrated meeting platforms to focus on Duty of Care for the Meetings Category. Duty of Care planning is still a key concern and often not as integrated as needed, especially for small/medium sized corporations.
Measurable Savings are Still King
Companies are employing more rigorous parameters than ever on how to recognize and report savings. Some of the soft dollar/value components are not considered savings according to these parameters, thereby creating more emphasis on strategic negotiations to yield value as defined by the unique culture of each organization.
TMC 3.0 was Voted Most Desired Discussion from All Tech Trends Possible
TMC’s have migrated their focus from many in-house technologies to integrating third parties. As years of disciplined procurement savings flatten out, the heightened focus on the traveler experience demands rapid and nimble adoption of an ever-increasing number of third-party technologies. Many buyers who are considering market evaluations of TMCs have put this technology trend at the top of their evaluation methodology.
Technology is constantly changing the way we live and work, and consumers are adapting to technology faster than generations before us. Managed travel is often caught in between the consumer experience versus the policy, rules-driven business travel experience. This ever-increasing tension requires buyers to not only understand the changing market but evaluate the cost/benefit of individually purchased technologies versus those offered by the various supplier platforms.
Managed vs Unmanaged Travel Benefits
Many suppliers miss the key distinction of what buyers are interested in for managed travel programs versus supplier offers for unmanaged travel. The main value proposition of a managed travel program is that you can get something that your travelers can’t get anywhere else. Integration of loyalty programs, direct offering versus TMC platforms, NDC are just a few of these opportunities to build more value between buyers and sellers.
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