men and women in airport on business travel

With changes in the way we work and the way we travel, both travel management companies (TMCs) and corporations are continuing to make significant investments as they work to meet the evolving needs of their business travelers.

NB: This is an article from Amadeus

According to a recent study conducted by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by the Cytric Solutions team at Amadeus, demand for change in the post-COVID-19 world of work continues to grow.  The last few years have seen a shift in the way we work, while employees’ expectations have changed, illustrated by the Great Resignation and calls for more flexible, hybrid modes of working.

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With these new patterns in travel, we are seeing more disperse teams and this has an impact on the way people travel for business and the industry recognizes this change and is developing the long-term solutions corporations need to meet the changing needs of travelers.

Here are some key areas that I believe we need to focus our attention on:

1. Digital transformation

Business travel is back and arguably it is even more strategic than before, as it will help increase collaboration and the value of networks or so-called social capital, that’s been harmed because of dispersed work teams.

At the same time, employees have seen many areas of their professional and personal lives quickly digitalized during the pandemic and they now expect travel and expense to follow. Legacy procedures – including paper receipts, labor intensive reconciliation and inefficient payment methods – are no longer considered fit-for-purpose and will increasingly have to be replaced.

Today, corporations need to provide the modern experience their employees come to expect in their every-day lives. Many challenges and opportunities have arisen with these new ways of working, this is why it is vital for companies to focus on digitalization and employee experience. In turn, this can help improve social capital within an organization.

Currently the way people pay for business travel and claim their expenses is back to front. The current systems cause issues for both the employer and employee – travelers are left out of pocket; time is wasted processing expense claims; and there is inability to control employee spend before it happens.

We must move away from this unmanaged, after-the-fact process and instead embrace end-to-end digital payment and expense, which boosts efficiency, visibility and control over travel spend.

2. Collaboration and connection

We are seeing more and more corporations fostering collaboration, helping employees be more productive, and empowering them with a new hybrid way of working.  Asking themselves “How can we be the employer of choice?”

When it comes to corporate travel, they are looking to build better traveler experiences that enrich, excite and delight. One area corporations are now looking into is how they can connect the tools people use every day for hybrid working to the tools used for planning and booking business travel in a seamless, collaborative, and forward-looking way.

Launched a year ago now, Cytric Easy from Amadeus, offers a single location to search, compare, or book a hotel, flight, or car rental – without ever leaving Microsoft Teams. It is the only travel and expense tool embedded in the traveler’s daily work environment, offering a single connection point, without having to leave their day-to-day collaboration tool.  It is exciting to see that travel arrangers and travelers have the ability to share trip information, which other users can match easily, and enjoy connecting and collaborating on trip. Using a tool that offers all of the above, is maybe an answer to the ever changing and growing needs of the traveler while strengthening the value of networks so important for corporations as it brings innovation, engagement and productivity.

3. Sustainability

A stronger commitment to sustainability is emerging across the travel industry and beyond: travelers are aware of the issues, governments are adopting legally binding commitments to reduce carbon emissions, and commercial incentives are also playing their part.  The topic is now embedded into corporate planning and budgeting, leading to new opportunities for travel management companies to serve corporations and their business travelers.  

Corporations and business travel sit at the intersection of many sustainability opportunities, and the industry is working to help corporate clients meet their own sustainability targets. Some OBTs in the market are meeting more and more requirements set by the corporations, for example by embedding the requirements into their own tools.  Cytric by Amadeus gives the corporate traveler the information upon which to make decisions and leads to providing reporting about the emissions for travel managers to build a more sustainable program and influence choices further. With share-my-transfer, Cytric Easy makes it a no-brainer to share a ride with colleagues arriving at a similar time at an airport and going to the same destination.

Overall, I believe the functions in Cytric that collaborate to enable the corporate customer to reach sustainability targets, are among the most comprehensive in the industry and will improve over time as the momentum builds across all aspects of the ecosystem.

4. Traveler wellbeing

Traveler wellbeing has always been on the map, but since the pandemic it is firmly back at the top of corporations’ agendas.  Now we once again travel for business, it is crucial for organizations across the globe to have the right tools and data available for ensuring everyone’s safety and well-being. With duty of care and risk assessment as key components of travel policies, corporations  need to have reliable and actionable risk intelligence, which can be shared with employees and travelers on the road in real-time.

Many OBTs offer this functionality, making it easier for TMCs and corporates to understand where travelers are, what their requirements might be, and how to communicate with them and reduce any negative impacts of travel.

In addition, Amadeus’ research finds that a deeper understanding of traveler wellbeing is now central to the success of OBTs. To provide effective duty of care, employers need travelers to book through approved managed channels.

5. The right content

Presenting all content side-to-side in a way that allows travelers to choose the best options has always been an important feature for any online booking tool. With NDC, this becomes even more key it will coexist with EDIFACT-sourced content for some time and TMCs and corporations need to have the ability to handle both.

With Cytric, travelers are presented with NDC-sourced content alongside other non-NDC content in one merged display. Ensuring that no matter the content type or the source, that they can make the best decision for themselves and the corporation.

And this content needs to be serviced by travel agencies in the same way.

In terms of rail, we know that it is crucial for travel managers to give their travelers the ability to compare both air and rail options—with vendors from many markets—on the same screen when using OBT solutions.  I believe this needs to be a focus for OBTs. Although this may sound simple on the surface, it will require industry-wide collaboration and investment that needs to yield a return for all key stakeholders involved.

The time is ripe to promote rail travel, and providers should be working to make it as easy as possible for travelers to choose this option.

Research shows that travelers are interested in traveling with rail to reduce their environmental footprint, and the European Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy is calling for efforts to shift passengers to rail. At a time when individuals and organizations are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of air travel, clean train technology is a viable alternative for many journeys. 

I believe we are at a tipping point; it is crucial for technology providers and travel sellers to work together so that corporations can make the most out of their travel and expense technology.

Read more articles from Amadeus