2017: The year corporate travel becomes more like consumer travel

After several years of talk but little action, is 2017 poised to be the year when the corporate travel experience truly mirrors that of leisure travel? Some early indicators, like the growth of ride sharing services, suggest the corporate travel industry is now closer than it’s ever been to embracing consumer-friendly practices.

Just a few short years ago, the corporate travel industry eschewed the thought of ride sharing services.  Many believed ride sharing services couldn’t provide the level of service or efficiency required by the business travel community.

But business travelers felt differently. According to various reports, ride sharing services are the most popular form of ground transportation today.  In a recent white paper, Phocuswright noted that, “This is a clear example of how a consumer experience influences corporate traveler behavior.”

Uber’s global head of enterprise, Travis Bogard, told CNBC that Uber’s push into the business travel segment is still in early stages. He expects the number of companies and users using Uber for Business to double by the middle of next year.

While Usage is Clear; Policy is Still Murky

Despite the sharp increase in usage, many corporate travelers are still unclear if ride sharing services are in-policy. Travel managers can address this issue in a few ways:

  • Use the start of the New Year as an opportunity to make a decision on ride sharing services if you haven’t yet,
  • Communicate your travel policy broadly,
  • Make sure your TMC flags if ride sharing services are in-policy at the time of booking.

If you’re still on the fence about whether to include ride sharing services in your travel policy, you’ll want to do your homework. Read this blog to learn how one client determined if ride sharing was right for her company.

Now would also be a good time to remind your travelers of your policy and to suggest they download the Egencia mobile app. The mobile app helps business travelers find the best ground transportation once they reach their final destination. The app connects to the Uber and Citymapper APIs, as well as Google Transit, so travelers can easily choose the fastest or least expensive option without entering an address. It also flags if the ground transportation option chosen is in policy.

More Consumer-Like Tools on the Way?

Now that ride sharing has become mainstream in the corporate travel space, what’s next?  Will mobile become more prevalent for corporate bookings? Will we see more advances in serving up sharing economy solutions through corporate booking tools?  Will shared lodging services become more popular?  We’ll explore all of these issues throughout the year. Stay tuned.