Innovative new technologies and the changing expectations of millennials are transforming how we travel for business. Here are five trends to look out for…
Expect more ‘bleisure’ travel
The Global Business Travel Association has found that ‘bleisure’ trips – extending business trips to include leisure time – are on the rise, particularly among North American millennials. According to the report, 48 per cent are choosing to extend work trips to include vacation time, while 33 per cent of Gen Xers also follow this trend. Millennials have grown up in an environment where innovation in technology means they’re more able to structure their lives specifically to their needs, so it’s no surprise that such personalization has seen a trend towards ‘bleisure’ travel. It’s also causing various knock-on effects. Travel management companies traditionally used by large corporates are being squeezed because their ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach sits in contradiction to this trend, while many ‘bleisure’ travelers (and corporate travelers generally) are choosing accommodation via apps like Airbnb rather than booking into the usual business hotels. As well as offering a more unique setting and authentic experience, it also gives people more flexibility with things like checking in and out.
In response, hotels are increasingly offering day rates, enabling business travelers to use rooms to freshen up or take a nap without having to book an overnight stay or deal with usual check-in restrictions. ‘Bleisure’ travel is a trend companies will look to further accommodate and even facilitate, since it has the potential to make employees happier and more productive while away from home.
New approaches to the airport lounge
Airport lounges are evolving to meet the priorities and needs of business travelers. For example, the SkyTeam Alliance, which incorporates 19 member airlines and access to 750 lounges worldwide, has recently unveiled a lounge in the newly-opened Istanbul airport that takes a distinctively holistic approach, incorporating lots of natural light, a ‘living botanical wall’ made up from plants that help oxygenate the environment, shower facilities, dedicated business spaces with superfast wifi, quiet zones to decompress and ergonomic seating where travelers can relax and enjoy complimentary food with a local flavour, as well as a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Striking a healthy work/life balance
Traveling for business can easily turn a 9 to 5 into a 24/7. Having been sent somewhere for the purposes of work, it’s easy to assume this is all you should be doing at your destination. But attitudes are changing, and business travelers are more savvy than ever about how to maximise their downtime and strike a healthy work/life balance, especially those who have to spend longer periods away.
Beyond the obvious need to stay in touch with family and friends, the key piece of advice to emerge is this: if you have a domestic routine, try to stick to it. There are various apps designed to help on this score. Normally go for a run in the morning? Then do the same at your destination using an app like RunGo, which offers routes in thousands of cities worldwide and provides turn-by-turn voice navigation so there’s no risk of getting lost. If you have a hobby or pastime you pursue at home like cooking or music or an interest in the arts, the Meetup app is designed to connect you to local groups in thousands of cities who share similar passions or interests. Similarly, the Spotted by Locals app connects you to people at your destination who provide on-the-ground advice on what to do, what to see, where to eat and how to get there, and encompasses over 70 cities worldwide. Finally, for logistical issues to do with flights, airports and transportation, the SkyTeam app (IOS / Android) provides airport maps, information on flight status and other useful stuff.
The rise of the eco-business traveler
Greater personalisation in business travel also means people have more control over the ecological impact of their journeys. They may not be able to do much about the carbon footprint created by air travel, but when it comes to sustainability there are an increasing number of options available. For example, there’s an increasing trend for choosing hotels and conference venues that are LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and making use of eco-friendly taxi companies.
Some businesses are switching from hotels entirely, choosing instead to book more ecological serviced apartments via companies like TheSqua.re. The rise in popularity of ‘bleisure’ travel is also in part down to the fact that it’s greener travel, since combining work with a vacation means people don’t take two separate trips. Likewise, if a company is sending employees to do business in, say, Bangkok and Shanghai, it makes sense to link trips to these places together where ever possible to save on air miles. Resources such as SkyTeam’s Round The World planner helps travelers create flight itineraries across their partner airlines to limit air miles and offer practical alternatives.
The increasing influence of AI and ML
AI and ML (Machine Learning) is transforming the travel industry, with travel companies using technology such as chatbots to solve some of the simpler issues like check-in times, transportation and wifi queries, while algorithms monitor the habits and preferences of specific travellers and mould their services and suggestions accordingly. The regular business traveler is likely to have a set of criteria they habitually apply to their trips, whether it’s preferences over airlines, arrival times, access to a gym and so on. The use of AI and ML means such criteria can be reliably met, whether it’s via a travel management company or an individual traveler using an app on their phone. This in turn links with increasing convergence technology across the industry, so all a traveler needs is their phone and one portal to organise everything for their trip, from logistics, to meetings, to ways to enjoy their downtime.
Find out about the benefits of signing up for SkyTeam member airlines’ frequent flyer programs. No need to register for several programs, their alliance-wide offer has you covered. Find out more…