Last week, we were lucky enough to attend the Business Travel Show (BTS) at the ExCel Centre in London. For two days we took every opportunity we could to talk to attendees and other exhibitors, as well as absorb as much information as possible from the amazing array of presentations and talks. Here are a few of the top business travel trends we noticed at the show:
The word on everyone’s lips at BTS this year was sustainability. Not only were exhibitors showing off all their green credentials on their stands, but the majority of the talks we attended touched on the issue. As a major source of emissions for businesses, at a time when they are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, it’s no surprise that this was the #1 hot topic. As one speaker put it, in 2019 travel managers were primarily driven by cost. In 2022, they are much more concerned with sustainability and employee safety.
At BTS we heard about everything from car rental companies buying used cars, to innovations in more efficient jet fuel, to ground transportation services incentivizing drivers to make the switch to electric cars. It was fantastic to see so many organizations putting real-world solutions into practice to make business travel more sustainable.
Total cost of trip
As tech stacks continue to grow at businesses, users have been looking for integrations that can help streamline their workflows and bring their data together. That’s no different in business travel, where we heard a lot about the elusive ‘total cost of trip’ (including accommodation, expenses, and air/ground travel), and how organisations can finally pin it down by implementing travel booking platforms that integrate directly with their finance systems.
Business travel demand levels
A few trends were discussed around changes in demand, mainly framed around how the geo-political climate and economy will affect it over the second half of the year and moving into 2023. Although speakers pointed out there has been a faster-than-expected rebound of demand for business travel to 2019 levels, capacity is still lagging behind somewhat, which has led to significant price increases. Surveys taken ahead of the conference indicated both that businesses were expecting to travel more in 2022, and crucially, that they were aware that the price of travel was likely to increase.
Some changes to demand levels may be for good however, as both airlines and ground transport providers noted that demand during peak travel times has now been spread across the week because of remote working.
New business travel trends (longer, less frequent trips) – people are taking longer trips, combining several business trips into one, and tagging on more leisure activities, as well as “work from anywhere” experiences.
Business travel as the new office culture
With more people working remotely, businesses are turning to travel to create and ignite company culture and employee wellbeing. There were various sessions that talked about new ways to engage teams, new technologies and tools that can help ensure work-life balance, how travel can be used as a motivator, and how to recognise signs of burnout and stress. Company away-days, working from different offices abroad and meetings in more unusual locations are becoming more common, and are also leading to an increase in corporate group bookings. Speakers also noted that business travellers are taking longer trips, combining several business trips into one, and tagging on leisure activities, as well as “work from anywhere” experiences.
The business travel sector is experiencing the knock-on effects of the disruption to automotive manufacturing. Around 2.2 million fewer cars have been made in the first half of 2022 due to the ongoing shortage of microchips and other supply chain issues. There has been a huge impact on car rental companies, ride sharing platforms, and ground transport fleets around the world, as prices and lead times for new vehicles have gone up. This has contributed, in part, towards the scarcity of drivers that the ground transport sector is also experiencing.
We know that it is no substitute for the real thing, but we hope that our quick summary of the Business Travel Show and the trends in corporate travel we noticed while we were there captured some of the highlights for you!