Run twice as fast : 5 business travel trends of 2019

As the Cheshire Cat said, “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" It is the right time to gain momentum, because there will definitely be destinations where to run, to go and to fly in 2019! Business on the territory of Russia strengthens its positions, tries new formats. Companies broaden their geography, which will lead to an increase in the number of business trips, and, consequently, travel budgets. The Russian Association of Business Travel (ABT-ACTE Russia), for example, has already included business trips to Vilnius, Tbilisi, Kazan and Saint Petersburg into its schedule. We are skilled and are willing to keep you in the know of the latest business travel trends.

I need your clothes. Technologies VS experience

According to last year`s research, the digitalization level of business travel processes in Russia is one of the highest in the world, and our travellers always use technological innovations and online apps during their business trips. An automated online booking tool is considered to be a “must have”. Independent OBTs increase the their rate of spread and broaden their boundaries. Biometrics, digital wallets and voice search reduce the length of booking and purchase up to several taps on the smartphone screen. The NDC abbreviation, frightening and incomprehensible just a while ago, in the new year will be included into the permanent lexicon of more than 30 airlines that have adopted this standard of information provision and ticket sales. In such robotized environment it may seem that there is no more room for a live travel manager in this system of interaction between the customer, the aggregator and the service provider. BUT!.. It is the staff qualification that becomes the most sought-after in the conditions of the global digital restart of business processes that will take place in 2019. All this automatically increases the role of a highly qualified expert capable of not merely pressing the button, but of accumulating new information, bringing together all the strings of the online web, and the main thing - of understanding the needs of the customer, attracting him with the quality and new ideas, and not pure logistics, that he can get online himself. The speed of business travel “terminators” is great, but the creative potential of a human is still able to compete with them in the labour market. And to do this, you should thoroughly study the customer, without leaving medium-sized and small businesses out in the cold.

Comfort, motivation - profit. Bleisure boom

Modern business travellers who spend a considerable part of their life on business trips, no longer wish to follow the traditional route “airport - hotel - meeting – airport”. Spouses, children and even pets go on business trips more and more often. In this case the success of a business meeting away from home depends on the state of mind of the employee. And the opportunity to have a good rest becomes a real motivation for an employee on a business trip. This is why the bleisure (business + leisure) concept has already won its followers and will be one of the main business travel trends in 2019. Out-of-town conference centres with SPA zones, sport facilities and restaurants are launched. Branded hotels provide services of nannies, kids play zones and guided tours to their guests. Event components such as sightseeing, authentic restaurants, entertainment centres and beaches have appeared in the business traveller`s route. And if a couple of years ago the amount of business travellers who added two or three leisure days to their business trips amounted to 7-10% of their total amount, nowadays almost one third plans bleisure trips. The more that travel market players have realized that a business traveller is a huge source of revenue one can get by providing a special visit to a museum in non-working hours or an opportunity to visit the Eiffel Tower without a queue.

American boy. Visa difficulties

A new round of political standoff will also have a negative impact on business travellers. It is not enough that the multi-entry visa to the USA (B-1/B-2), including business travellers, now costs twice as much as it used to, it is now more difficult to get. Thus, in order to get a re-entry visa, you have to attend an interview again. The number of US diplomatic mission staff in Russia has been cut, and you can wait for the interview for two to six months. Some Russian travellers who have already faced this problem, say that for some unknown reason they had to attend the interview twice, several months apart. It is unacceptable for a business trip. In order to get the visa, many people go to American consulates of the countries of the CIS and the Baltics where there are Russian speaking employees and the waiting period is 7-10 days. Some hope for a thawing of relations and the return to previous rules and fares. One thing is clear - in 2019 you will have to fight for an American visa. At least until politicians come to an agreement.

Figaro here, Figaro there. Demand for travel services

Finally Russian companies have realized the importance of the corporate travel policy and the adoption of the corresponding document. The number of business trips in Russia has been on a steady rise. In 2018 this fact led to a 22% increase in demand for airline tickets. In 2019 this figure is expected to grow even more. Experts also predict an increase in travel budgets and travel service prices, although an insignificant one. And again, highly qualified travel managers who have always been deficient will bear the main burden. Every year Our Association of Business Travel holds an intensive course for experts in this field, and we see the real demand for them. This year we will also hold a special practicum on travel policy development and purchases. Do not forget to improve your qualification before the high business travel season!

Save our souls. Comprehensive travel safety

The global era of systemic corporate solutions in business trip safety has already started. And 2019 will be held under the auspices of informational support of employees and risk elimination in business trips. The first days of January have already shown that you can get into an emergency situation both in Paris, and in Toronto, let alone Moscow airports. And these are real emergency situations, and as for petty offences, car accidents or foodborne diseases - employees on business trips come across them regularly. For the person it is harm for health, and for the employer - huge financial and reputational losses. In Russia we have finally started speaking, although with moans and groans, about corporate safety on business trips and systematic informing of employees on risks and the ways to avoid them. We have planned a series of open webinars on this topic (the first one will be held on January 22) and several reports on business trip safety at our events. It is not so difficult and expensive to check hotel safety and reliability or to work out an emergency plan than to attend court and pay a compensation to the employee harmed.

Still, there is something that has not changed for years: we in ABT-ACTE Russia wish you interesting, useful and safe business trips and look forward to seeing you at our events!