Airlines and hotels have been reporting increased leisure travel, signaling business travel will not be far behind. As corporations across America are reopening their physical offices and putting 12+ months of Zoom-only calls behind them, business travel may come back better than ever. A recent survey indicates 96% of pre-pandemic corporate travelers would be willing to take a business trip within the next 12 months and 65% were "very willing" to travel.
Aside from reaping the rewards of human interaction, these travelers will be greeted with new and improved ways to book and pay for travel and more personalized guest experiences driven by new and innovative technology.
As more of the workforce hits the road, here are a few tips to better serve the new and returning business traveler.
Increasing contactless options
Currently, 41% of global transactions are carried out with contactless solutions, and 74% of Americans say they will continue using contactless solutions after the pandemic subsides. It seems, too, that touch-free is the new go-to for business travelers who prefer to check-in and check-out or control room temperatures and TVs without laying hands on anything other than their smart phones.
Additionally, many organizations are doing away with Excel- or paper-based methods of tracking traveling and business-related expenses and adopting virtual options. Virtual per diem cards, for example, enable business travelers to pay for meals, transportation, gasoline and so on without touching unnecessary surfaces. It’s a safer, easier and more controlled payment method that’s taking off in a post-pandemic world.
Cleanliness is next to … capacity
Want more bookings? Prioritize and promote sanitation measures. Enhanced solutions range from hospital-grade disinfectants to face mask policies to personal cleaning kits for every traveler.
Sixty-two percent of consumers who took part in the AHLA State of the Hotel Industry 2021 survey said cleanliness is one of their top three factors when choosing a place to stay. This is 24 percentage points higher than pre-pandemic results.
Many hotels have joined the AHLA’s industry-wide initiative, Safe Stay, which focuses on enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols.
Enable flexible bookings – and everything travel-related
Constantly changing travel and safety guidelines have prompted travelers to want more flexibility. Specifically, they crave the ability to change or cancel reservations fee-free and to be offered simpler, streamlined options of checking into their hotels. In fact, some organizations lean on a third-party provider for its ability to tap into flexible cancellation policies not typically offered when booking online or directly with hotels.
Keep it all in one place
Between remote teams and employee travel, it can feel extra daunting to track, manage and hunt down all of your moving pieces – not to mention keep them all under control. Streamlining the travel and payment details for your organization provides you with a one-stop shop to know where your employees are, track their flights and hotel booking and manage their per-diem. This saves you and your team valuable time that can be put back into other projects.
Go with the new workforce travel flow
Undoubtedly, business travel will be back – it is a strong economic driver. In fact, a study from Oxford Economics found that $12.50 of additional revenue is generated in the economy for every $1 spent on business travel. However, the way business travel management works and what travelers need has completely changed.
Touchless transactions, immaculate accommodations and more flexible booking options will be the baseline requirements for improving travel and expense programs for businesses and their traveling employees. Are you ready?