Economic uncertainty has infiltrated the world of corporate business travel. Various markets experienced shockwaves in the wake of the recent American presidential elections, and unexpected world events will only heighten market volatility through 2017. While the broader geo-political environment continues to affect the world of corporate business travel, relatively healthy growth in this area can still be expected in the coming year.
Travel will be cheaper in Asia but costlier in the West
According to Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), despite continued global uncertainty, global business travel spend will grow at 5.8 percent on average over the next five years reaching $1.6 trillion in 2020. Asia will remain the shining star in terms of this growth. Economic growth in India is expected to drive demand across Asia, somewhat balanced by slowing GDP growth in China. Flight access to secondary cities in China and India will continue to grow, as increased air capacity looks set to drive down costs for travellers.
Further liberalisation of the aviation market in India spells good news — smaller airlines with less than 20 aircraft are now able to operate international routes to and from India’s secondary cities — further bringing down the cost of air travel in one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
Growth of sharing economy
The sharing economy, according to the World Economic Forum, has led to the rise of a plethora of accommodation options. Although hotel bookings still take a large share of the pie – with the global hotel industry revenue predicted to reach US$550 billion in 2016 from USD$457 billion in 2011 – travel managers now have the luxury of choice, from selecting longer term stay options through peer to peer platforms such as Airbnb to shorter and more unique boutique hotel travel experiences, options readily available to all corporate business travellers today regardless of budget.
Mobile technology will continue to dominate
With the expansion of digital lifestyles, and the rise of millennial workforce, business travellers too will heavily depend on their mobile devices and digital travel applications will continue to rise. Driven by mobile’s omnipresence and the proliferation of devices from smartphone to tablets, from laptops to wearables, business travellers are increasingly appreciating the convenience, flexibility and choice afforded by the latest technology.
From remotely changing flight bookings to checking in on socioeconomic conditions at the destination, business travellers can leverage technology at their fingertips to enjoy a better business travel experience.
Amid political and economic changes, one thing remains clear. Disruptors will continue to disrupt the economy and cost constraints will continue to shape the world of corporate business travel. Travel management partners will need to work within this new paradigm to grasp opportunities that this new world brings.
Bertrand Saillet, General Manager of FCM Travel Solutions South East Asia