Corporate travel has long been an important cornerstone of the travel industry, signifying a large revenue stream for the various industry players.
Traditionally the domain of intercontinental airlines and major hotel chains, the industry is evolving faster than ever with a proliferation of companies big and small, seeking to gain a slice of this ever-expanding pie.
Suffice to say, the boom and boon of the industry is dependent on a multitude of factors. On one hand, the drop in oil prices has relieved airlines of significant operation costs, while on the other, the recent spate of aviation catastrophes and high-profile terrorist attacks has caused many to be wary of the risks involved.
However, as we progress towards an increasingly global and interconnected economy, corporate travel is an inevitable part of most businesses. As such, it is vital for both employers and employees to equip themselves on the current state of the market in order to make informed and discerning decisions before they embark on their next port of call.
Here are four corporate travel trends that are shaping the world in 2016.
In light of the economic slowdown in 2016, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) predicts a 12 percent growth in total business travel spend in 2016, a decrease from the 14.2 percent experienced in 2015.
However, despite the flat growth expected from the industry as a whole, there remains a few bright stars, especially for the APAC region. For one, China is expected to overtake USA and clinch pole position in terms of business travel spending in the early half of 2016. However, it is also worth noting that up to 95% of business travel in China is made up of domestic travel. Closer to home, Singapore is also set to register a higher growth for its Business Travel and Meetings, Incentive Travel, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) industry. Moving beyond China and India, the Singapore Tourism Board has decided to extend its In Singapore Incentives & Rewards (INSPIRE) programme to Europe and North America in a bid to attract the anticipated rise in international outbound travel. This will further reinforce Singapore’s status as a travel hub to the rest of Asia, while capitalizing on Changi Airport’s connectivity to the two regions.
Business or Pleasure?
The rise of Bleisure has been the latest trend to take hold of the corporate travel industry. The portmanteau Bleisure, literally refers to the mixing of business with leisure. As a perk to business travellers to better manage their work-life balance, companies have recognized the benefits of accommodating employees to travel with their families during corporate trips, at the expense of the employee. This has proven to be especially enticing to companies where business travel is inevitable and they wish to help their employees devote sufficient time to their families as well. Coupled with the increasing use of technology to manage their business travel, employees are beginning to better integrate their work-lives, instead of merely trying to achieve a balance of two separate entities.
Conventionally, an employer may be legally obliged to educate their staff on the inherent risks in business travel, depending on the nature of the work and its associated risks. However, the rise of Bleisure travel has blurred the distinction between work and leisure, raising new issues in the area of Workplace Safety and Health or WSH. While companies are increasingly attuned to the needs of its employees in accommodating Bleisure travel, they remain steadfast in ensuring their safety. Hence, until companies find the middle ground between these issues, they will have to be mindful in giving their employees more leeway.
Technology Take Off
Technology has disrupted every aspect of our lives and business travel has not been spared from this change. With the use of technology, today’s business travellers have the world at their fingertips. From the moment their itinerary is booked, they are able to access a plethora of information and real-time updates that will help them make their trip a seamless experience. Along with the rise of Bleisure, technology allows business travellers to carry out work more efficiently, ranging from being able to make real-time expense claims via a company app with only a photo of the receipt to being able to immediately react to unforeseeable circumstances, such as weather disruptions and terrorist attacks, so that both the safety of the employee and the company’s intellectual property remains unharmed.