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Study reveals a divide between travel managers and business travellers when it comes to accessing the sharing economy

October 13, 2016 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

AirPlus International has published the third part of its International Travel Management Study (ITMS) for 2016, revealing that travel managers and business travellers don’t necessarily see eye to eye when it comes to leveraging the sharing economy.The sharing economy has been a major disruptor in the travel industry with suppliers such as AirBnB, Uber and Car2Go revolutionising the travel experience. Despite many of these suppliers now recognising an opportunity to target the corporate market, with players like AirBnB introducing a corporate portal and Uber launching Uber Business, the sharing economy hasn’t exactly been welcomed with open arms by the business travel industry.

Planners of business trips tend to have concerns regarding the duty of care and are also hesitant to do anything which may undermine the relationships with existing hotels, rental car companies, and suppliers of ground transportation.

There are also inherent risks that may arise, amongst others, from compliance requirements. Who is for example liable when an employee is a victim of a car accident while sitting in an Uber car, or is injured while sharing a flat of a private individual on a business trip?

On the other hand, business travelers are quite attracted to the opportunities offered by the sharing economy. 84 per cent of business travellers are satisfied with the sharing economy, and the overwhelming majority wants to increase the use of sharing economy providers. The primary reasons for this are the ease of use (booking done quickly with a smartphone) and invisibility of pay (no cash or credit card needed at time of service and proper tipping is already included). It is easy to understand why travelers have a higher comfort factor with sharing economy providers compared with traditional travel suppliers.

David Newington, Country Manager – Australia at AirPlus International argues that the report highlights the lag that can sometimes exist between what business travellers want and what travel managers can deliver.

“What the findings reveal is that the speed of innovation in the travel industry is outpacing corporate travel programs. While business travellers may be eager to adopt all that the sharing economy has to offer, companies may not yet be in a position to proceed either due to internal processes or perceived risks.”

“This is what causes the divide – companies fall behind as they attempt to navigate the integration process, while business travellers become impatient that they are unable to access the sharing economy services they’re familiar with and likely are already using to meet their personal travel needs.”

“One way to expedite the process of adapting corporate travel programs to what’s new in the market is to leverage a centralised travel payment system which offers access to extensive data and full transparency of all travel requirements and costs. This data can be used to assess where new suppliers can add value, allowing for them to be integrated more quickly.”

AirPlus International was recently awarded two BizTravel Awards for “Best Provider of Corporate Cards” and “Best Provider of Innovative Technologies” as voted by the readers of German trade journal BizTravel.

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