CWT identifies major business travel trends for 2013

Monday, December 3, 2012

CWT identifies major business travel trends for 2013

When it comes to predicting trends in the business travel sector, many executives may wish they had a crystal ball that could enable them to stay ahead of the curve. The corporate travel industry is constantly changing, and today's executives have to work hard to ensure they maximize return on investment in a cost-effective manner. Thanks to a new report published by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), executives may be able to take some of the guesswork out of what 2013 holds.

Word of mouth
Many executives choose to stay in serviced apartments and corporate housing as an affordable alternative to chain hotels. However, the popularity of corporate suites in well-known brands is still a major part of the hospitality industry. While some business travelers choose to stay at chains they know and value, word of mouth is a powerful motivator for undecided executives.

According to the CWT report, peer review websites are likely to play a more significant role in the corporate travel sector throughout next year. An Ipsos Mori poll conducted in June last year suggests that one in three business travelers already posts reviews of accommodations to websites. The prevalence of social media and the emergence of specialized business travel accommodation review websites will likely influence this behavior and make word of mouth a more important part of the booking process.

Another key change executives can expect within the business travel sector next year is the continued economic growth of countries such as Brazil, China and India. Data from the Global Business Travel Association suggests that these nations will further drive increases in spending within the sector, at more than twice the global average. As executives seek new opportunities in emerging markets, these regions could yield substantial returns, if business travelers know how to leverage the uncertainty in these markets.

The changing face of travel
Remaining productive while on the road can be a challenge for even the most seasoned business traveler. CWT predicts that technology will play an increasingly important role within the business travel sector next year, with an emphasis on maintaining executives' productivity and capitalizing on heightened consumer expectations.

In an attempt to streamline the business travel booking experience, many airlines, hotels and vehicle rental agencies will use virtual assistant agents, also known as avatars, to help executives and corporate travel managers book services. As with other areas of business travel, emphasis will be placed on exceeding customer expectations and simplifying the booking process.

Technology is seen by many as one way to gain a valuable competitive edge in today's business travel sector. Earlier this year, Patrice Simon, CWT's head of innovation, made comparisons to other travel markets to predict how technology will shape the future of corporate travel.

"Travelers want to plan, book and manage their business travel as easily as they do their leisure travel," said Simon. "For travelers, 2013 will be about developing instant, relevant and bookable services. For companies, it will be about gaining access to large amounts of data from multiple sources via real-time dashboards."

There is little doubt that business travel is changing rapidly. For savvy executives, the changes outlined in the CWT report will be a welcome change. For others, they could represent another hurdle to be overcome in the search for profitable opportunities abroad. Wherever business travelers seek new opportunities, accommodations like corporate apartments can provide today's executives with the quality and service they expect at a price that will please even the most budget-conscious travel management professional.