by WEX Travel
“Building a custom experience” describes the work of a leisure traveler in the midst of vacation planning. But it’s quickly becoming the norm for many corporate road warriors who see their business trips as opportunities to explore, experience, and get immersed in new surroundings—if only for a day or two. And it’s turning corporate travel management on its head.
In this two-part discussion, we’re taking a look into how the sharing economy is changing the travel industry. First, let’s explore the primary market drivers behind the rising popularity of travel share economy services.
On the Road: They Deliver An “Experience”
More and more, people who travel for work are looking for an experience. This is especially true for younger travelers. According to research from the CWT Travel Management Institute, twice as many of travelers born between 1980 and the mid-2000s have used sharing services for business travel. It’s likely these services fit right in with how they manage travel in their personal lives.
For people who are accustomed to checking in and out of traditional hotels and standing in taxi lines when they’re on the road, sharing services offer a unique, more personal experience. The ability to stay in a private home or book a lift across town on a ride-sharing app is novel and refreshing.
That’s why while there are business market sharing services for private jets, office space, and even food, those for accommodations and ground transportation are the most talked about today. Read Trend Watch: Innovative Lodging Option Redefines Business Travel and Ride-Sharing in Corporate Travel Slowly Accelerates for a look at why companies like Airbnb and Uber are a mainstay in the business travel headlines.
On the Road: They’re User-Friendly
Mobile has a stronghold over people’s on-the-go productivity. People are living their lives with smartphones in their hands and they have come to expect to use web and mobile-based services to get them through the day. But aside from the device itself, mobile technology represents traveler preferences for on-demand convenience and self-service that’s inherently personalized.
Sharing services are designed to work seamlessly with travelers’ tech-savvy ways of booking travel. New booking options that offer more convenience—a place to stay in the perfect location near a client or a ride pick-up in 5 minutes—are going to trump more conventional pathways that simply aren’t as user-friendly.
And don’t forget bleisure travel, another trend contributing to the disruption in traditional business travel booking. When the lines between personal and business travel are blurred, the trip-booking process becomes a little murky as well. (Read The Trends Behind The Rise of Bleisure Travel and Clearing Up The Blurred Lines of Bleisure Travel Expenses for insights.) Corporate travelers who are mixing some personal time into their business trips are looking for more interesting alternatives to basic hotel accommodations; if they’re exploring areas outside the beaten path, it might make more sense for them to pick up their smart phone and order a ride-share. The bottom line: if a sharing economy service meets their needs, they’ll want their employer to accommodate them.
Back at the Office: Making it Work
Sharing economy services are shaping up to be more than a trend. Yet, to take advantage of them, business travelers usually need to leave the boundaries of traditional trip planning—and that’s creating a stir for their travel managers. Stay tuned, as part two of this discussion will explore the impact sharing services are having on business travel management.
Carlson Wagonlit Travel: CWT Travel Management Institute, The Sharing Economy