Bringing business and leisure travel closer together
Thursday, October 25, 2012
The demands and expectations many executives have of their business travel experiences often differ widely from those of recreational tourists. Often favoring the services of a single travel management company (TMC), executives may soon see a shift in how TMCs market their services to corporate clients. According to Mark Walton, vice president of strategy and account management at Orbitz, the business travel industry must adapt to align itself more closely with leisure travel trends.
An emphasis on exceeding expectations
Speaking at the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Procurement Symposium in Los Angeles, Walton said that today's executives should be presented with a booking and planning experience that offers the same level of control and ease enjoyed by individuals arranging recreational trips. The "consumerization" of business travel is being seen as an increasingly important factor for the hospitality industry to consider, especially in light of growing fees and higher overall travel costs, regardless of whether executives choose to stay in corporate housing and serviced apartments or executive suites in chain hotels.
"Travel managers prefer the control and minimized risk of a travel program sourced to a single TMC," said Walton. "But with that control comes a perception among travelers that they have limited choice and flexibility, so we must continue innovating to deliver technology and tools that more closely match the ones travelers already use for their leisure travel bookings."
While there is clearly much to be done with regard to improving standards of business travel in a competitive marketplace, some travel companies remain optimistic about their prospects, even amid lingering economic uncertainties. According to Business Travel News, both Delta Airlines and US Airways reported strong performances in Q3, driven by demand for corporate travel.
Ed Bastian, president of Delta, said that corporate travel increased by 8 percent during the previous four weeks, indicating that confidence is gradually returning to the business travel sector. He added that Delta had seen double-digit-over-year performance in its financial services and banking businesses, and 9 percent growth in its manufacturing and technology sectors.
The strong report from Delta and US Airways contradicts similar revenue projections from rival carriers such as Southwest Airlines, which recently reported a decline in demand for business travel. Officials at Delta speculate that the uncertainty of economic regulations in light of the impending U.S. presidential election could be a factor in the fluctuating demand for business travel throughout North America.