This year’s Business Travel Show featured presentations and panel discussions with experts from across the industry. We’ve collated our highlights for those who missed the event.
Business travel is changing – and that’s not surprising, because business travellers are changing. By 2020, 50% of the workforce will be millennials1. So how can travel managers meet the expectations of people who expect the same flexibility they enjoy when travelling for pleasure when they are travelling for work? And how can travel programmes reflect the needs of a digital-savvy generation?
Millennials want Flexibility
Employers must develop a compelling business travel programme or risk losing millennial employees, says Ian. Under 40s want flexible and non-disruptive solutions. They are open about the apps and channels they use, and managers can use ecosystems like SAP Concur to tie them all together for automated management. With millennial-friendly B2C brands like Airbnb and Uber moving increasingly into the B2B arena, this can only be a good thing for travellers and employers.
Younger employees are used to being the product, so they want personalised services that reflect their willingness to share data. Ian says that travel managers have a wealth of information on travellers they can use to tailor services – while being mindful of privacy regulations, of course. This data can come from diverse sources, such as HR systems, traveller surveys and poll results. But be smart in when and how you collect data: don’t ask a traveller who’s just lost a client how their trip was, for example. They’re likely to rate the trip poorly because of the business outcome, regardless of how good the actual travel experience was.
Avoid Heavy-Handed Compliance
Smart use of tech can also make the travel experience less disruptive. Instead of hefty policy documents (that nobody reads), travel managers can use technology to build policy intelligence into the travel experience. Millennials expect choice throughout the booking process. So, instead of restricting which hotels they can book, show them that your preferred hotel is used by X% of their colleagues. Ian mentioned a peer whose dream is for a traveller to be completely compliant for 10 years without them ever knowing what the policy actually is. Smarter, softer ways of influencing travel behaviour are just the ticket.
- Consider what changes you could make to your travel programme to reflect the needs of millennials.
- Use the data you have to personalise business travel where possible.
- Investigate light-touch ways to keep your business travellers compliant.