As we enter the new decade, experts throughout the travel industry are preparing not only for an uptick in corporate travel — based on the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) forecast for 3.6% growth — but also for changes in what business travelers expect when they are away from home. Predictions for the top 2020 travel trends include high-tech and high-touch adjustments that will help smooth the difficulties inherent in business trips — whether across the country or around the globe — to make business travel easier and less stressful.
Increased Dependence on and Availability of Mobile Phone Services
Business travelers were early adopters of smartphone technology because the devices allowed them to stay on top of new developments while on the go for both business information and travel conditions. American Express predicts that mobile phones will play an increasingly important role as travelers use them “not just for tracking and managing flight information but also for buying ancillary services such as hotel rooms and ground transportation.” The International Air Transport Association (IATA) adds that smartphones allow airlines to adopt individualized prices that are calculated to reflect corporate agreements, past purchases, and elite-tier loyalty benefits, as well as current market conditions. And in response to traveler demands to stay connected at all times, American Express notes that “the era of patchy, often slow in-flight Wi-Fi may finally be ending” as mobile service providers are invited to offer cellular service on airplanes so that travelers can maintain seamless connectivity.
More Attention to Traveler Well-Being
An increasing number of companies are working to provide business travelers with the resources they need to maintain healthy travel habits. A study by the travel technology company Amadeus concluded that traveler well-being goes far beyond access to a gym and healthy food options. The company found that the constant stress involved with safety concerns and getting from place to place with luggage intact are huge barriers to well-being. “Today’s travelers benefit from in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity, airport technology to minimize waiting lines, hotel technology to provide guests with personalized services, and mobile travel apps with everything a traveler needs,” notes Amadeus. As a result, the company predicts that travel apps, many of which already provide services that were unimagined just a few years ago, will continue to grow throughout 2020 and beyond.
Improvements to Technological Solutions
Technology will continue to play an important role in travel throughout the new year. Increased use of biometrics and digital travel identity tools at airports and border crossings will reduce security lines and wait times. Amadeus also predicts that new artificial intelligence weather forecasting tools using “nontraditional data points, such as connected cars, cell towers and IoT [Internet of Things] devices,” combined with “information from more conventional radar, satellite and weather station sources” will reduce travel delays. Furthermore, an increasing number of personalized travel apps — which do everything from tracking luggage and converting currency in real time to providing foreign language translations — will make the act of moving from one place to another less disruptive.
Better Green Practices
Some travel writers acknowledge, “Travel is a[n] … environmentally destructive activity.” For many businesses, the negative ecological impact of travel conflicts with efforts to reduce the company’s carbon footprint. For many individuals, it adds to the stress of travel. To alleviate this stress, the travel industry has responded with innovative attempts to reduce its impact on the environment. Some notable examples include more hotels replacing disposable mini toiletries with bulk-size dispensers; more designs for hotels, airports, and train stations that use salvaged materials; and airlines working to reduce the nearly six million tons of trash generated by their passengers each year. Expect these trends to continue throughout 2020.
Easing the Burdens
In the dawn of the new year, there is clear recognition throughout the travel industry that as travel continues to grow, both in terms of dollars spent on travel and in the number of people traveling, adjustments need to be made to ease the burdens that travel often imposes on business people. As a result, the major trends in travel — increased dependence on and availability of mobile phone services, more attention to traveler well-being, improvements in technological solutions, and better ecological practices — will make business travel easier and more sustainable for years to come.