In-Person Meetings and Trip Management Software That Powers Them
Like many industries, the pandemic caused a significant shift in corporate travel and brought with it the opportunity for change. Business travel is becoming more purposeful. While pre-pandemic days saw corporate travelers booking airline tickets to attend a single meeting, today those same travelers are extending those trips by several days as a way to accomplish more while they’re on the road.
Those who travel for business are also prioritizing their health and wellness, looking to optimize their time, limiting their carbon footprint, and looking for tools to help them maintain those priorities. Businesses and their employees rely on corporate travel management software to enhance their experience from the moment of booking through submitting expenses, ensuring the process is seamless from start to finish.
Now that it’s expected to be more purposeful about business travel, it's important for companies to understand the shift and choose technologies and policies that support it.
Business travel strategy
When it comes to business travel now, there are three key elements many are considering before booking a trip:
- What is the purpose of this trip? Is an in-person meeting required?
- What are the most economical and lowest carbon-emitting ways to travel?
- What are the risk factors to my health and safety?
“Business travelers are more thoughtful and measured about where they go and when,” said Todd Kaiser, senior vice president of business development and strategy for Deem. “Some companies are even mapping out the business case for trips on a scorecard to determine if it is actually needed.” If the score is high enough after an employee has completed the evaluation, they’ll book their trip.
According to Kaiser, many of Deem’s travelers are likely to book corporate travel using ground transportation. “In many cases, ground transportation is almost fully contactless,” Kaiser said. “Travelers enjoy having more protection and take comfort in the reliability of ground transport versus air travel. This is especially noticeable now that flights are being canceled regularly. And when you factor in the time to arrive early at the airport, security wait times, waiting for the flight to board and finally take off — traveling by ground can sometimes be faster than flying.”
Kaiser thinks the growing emphasis on sustainability is strengthening the persuasion for ground travel too. “It helps reduce the travel carbon footprint, which is something that’s on the radar of travelers. Now, we can see how things are changing.
People care much more now about tying tangible goals to company-level objectives to improve sustainability. Travel programs are now being held accountable to these objectives and rely on technology to help make sure they are hitting sustainability goals.” — Todd Kaiser, SVP, Business Development & Strategy, Deem
Another advocate for evaluating the benefits of travel is Scott Gillespie, an industry-leading expert on travel management and founder and CEO of tClara. Gillespie supports justifiable travel and offers a tool that business leaders can use to determine if an in-person trip is indeed merited.
For meetings that cannot be accomplished via remote video call, corporate travelers expect to work with easy-to-use travel technology that can manage all aspects of the trip while factoring in components that prioritize health and environmental concerns.
“There are still a lot of good reasons to meet,” Kaiser said. “Face-to-face interaction can result in a lot of meaningful discussions that you can’t always get through virtual meetings. You’re able to glean so much more from in-person conversations.”
Research compiled by GreatBusinessSchools.org (updated in May 2021,) shows that face-to-face meetings tend to be more positive and perceived as more credible than virtual meetings. Although video conferencing allows us to physically see each other, a significant amount of non-verbal communication is still lost due to its limited frame. The following infographic helps convey the research conclusions:
Corporate travel and mobility
Travel planning used to require desktop computers, travel agents, and printed itineraries, but now every aspect of business travel can be done from a smartphone. Ease of booking has expanded beyond the main elements of a trip, such as hotel bookings and airline reservations and now encompasses many of the services a traveler needs getting from point A to point B.
The ideal booking technology allows travelers to combine any form of transportation on a single platform and applies individual preferences and corporate policy. “Mobility is the missing link that ties together all aspects of the business travel experience,” Kaiser said. “When you encompass an entire trip, you increase productivity for the traveler and provide insights for the corporation.”
Empowering the future of business travel
Since the onset of the pandemic, corporations are placing more emphasis on sustainability, health and wellness, and improved efficiency.
Many businesses are working to meet the expanded needs of their employees while still balancing profit and loss (P&L) statements. This requires investment in corporate travel management systems that integrate all aspects of the trip and makes it easier for travelers to plan and manage their travel.
“Travel and entertainment is normally one of the top five expenses on a company’s P&L statement,” Kaiser said. “Being creative and solving problems with technology will be important as we move forward.”
See what IDC analysts have to say about empowering the future of travel with technology in this complimentary report.