‘Super apps’, voice-enabled bookings and 5G roll-out will have a significant impact on business travel in the next year, according to a new paper released by travel technology company Amadeus today.
Despite the growth of technologies that make virtual meetings possible, business travel spend in the region is still predicted to double between 2020 to 2025, with the region forecast to eventually account for half of the world’s total spend. ‘B-leisure’ travel – where employees add leisure time and activities onto work trips – has also been rising in Asia, with a survey by Amadeus finding that Asian corporate travelers are twice as likely to book work trips that include weekends than their European counterparts.
Against this backdrop, Amadeus’ ‘Future of Corporate Travel’ paper, written in conjunction with senior leaders from Musement, BorderPass and Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation, identifies five key trends that HR departments in the region need to be aware of as corporate travel continues to grow and evolve:
There’s a major shift happening between human and computer interaction, particularly with voice technology across Asia Pacific. As travel companies continue to invest in voice technology, businesses will have quicker access to the traveler’s profile, real-time alerts and in-flight amenity checks within a single natural sentence. This means that travel consultants and travelers won’t have to go through multiple screens; they will soon be able to achieve the same goal much more quickly – using voice.
Nishank Gopalkrishnan, Chief Business Officer, Musement, commented: “I personally think voice will be the differentiator moving forward. If you think of it, talking to one another is the most natural thing humans do. Typing, swiping and other forms of interaction are all just intermediate steps, as we are unable to efficiently talk to a machine. This will change, and HR departments need to equip their employees with the skills and technology to use voice for quicker bookings and travel planning in the future.”
Corporate travelers are juggling so many travel apps, including for their airlines, travel agencies and hotels. In the future this will move to a ‘one-app/ super-app’ concept, giving corporate travelers the ability to book, make changes, get an itinerary and claim expenses – all on one single app. It is already one of the top trends among big players in the mobile space. Much like WeChat has done for years in China, several other companies in Asia like LINE, KakaoTalk, Grab, and Go-Jek are expanding to other verticals to add functionalities and content to their apps, from mobility options to food delivery, media, payments and travel, targeting more business travelers.
Moving forward, travelers will expect everything to be easily accessible to them through one, simple to use app. This is a commercial opportunity for travel companies, and HR departments need to bear this in mind when reviewing the solutions that they make available to their employees.
Faster networks through 5G are now being deployed across Asia Pacific and are enabling other technologies to take off, changing the way that travelers move around their own cities and travel to others. Thanks to the increased speed and amount of data, there will be more advanced connected devices – from smart homes to self-driving cars and smart cities – and increased personalization through Artificial Intelligence (AI).
This greater connectivity will allow travel companies to provide a seamless travel experience in which a business traveler can go door-to-door from their home to a hotel with little hassle and a truly personalized service. The frictionless experience will continue at their hotel with 5G smart hotels – offering faster connection speeds for smartphones and connected devices. With 5G, the end traveler is going to be better connected than ever before HR departments need to be ready for this and ensure they best equip their employees to take advantage of 5G hyper-connectivity.
Edgar Vega, Commercial Head of APAC, Mobile, Amadeus, commented: “Business travel is no longer just about getting to and from home. It is a series of experiences that demand an intuitive, streamlined management – which is driven through mobile. I’m convinced that the 5G rollout will completely transform the corporate traveler’s mobile experience. For starters, access to unlimited data will allow for more informative and productive business trips while on the other side corporations will be able to provide better guidance for their corporate travelers in terms of access to hotel, transfer and destination services in virtual reality format.”
The security of corporate travelers will always be the number one priority for corporations and travel management companies. However, maximum security doesn’t always mean a smooth travel experience. One trend to look out for in the near future is how the travel industry will master security alongside a seamless travel experience.
Innovation in this space is already well underway and biometrics are playing a huge role in making this happen. Long queues and scanning passports will become a thing of the past as travel becomes frictionless. Amadeus is already working with several airports in line with IATA’s One ID vision to use biometrics to reduce wait times and move towards a remotely-hosted biometrics solution for the industry. By providing a seamless travel experience, business travelers will be able to spend less time waiting in queues and spend more time focused on the job they are there for. This is crucial for those that travel regularly for work – especially in terms of keeping job satisfaction levels high.
Faisal Ariff, Founder and CEO, BorderPass, commented: “In business travel there are two goals that corporations need to consider – security and seamless travel. The tricky part is applying them in such a way that one goal isn’t achieved at the expense of the other. Better yet, technology needs to evolve that can improve both sides of the equation. For business travelers there are some opportunities in credentialing that could help authorities in risk profiling and crowd management.”
In most countries, employers have a legal and ethical duty of care to their employees when they travel, which means they should take all reasonable steps to ensure employees’ health and safety.
In the near future, we expect to see companies evolving their duty of care approach to a real-time one that uses mobile technology and instant messaging to keep track of their employees’ well-being minute- by-minute. This will allow companies to provide real-time assistance and disruption management to tackle any issues directly and without delay.
Mr Jun Noguchi, Senior Manager, Head of HR Systems Health & Safety Fuso, Human Resources, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation: “In any industry, the safety and security of employees traveling for corporate travel is a company’s number one priority. For us, it’s essential that we have a trusted travel technology partner that will help us focus on operations and then cost optimization. This will ensure we always undertake the right duty of care priorities and help us continue to give our employees the highest quality experiences whilst they travel for work.”