From February 24-25, the Travelport team were in London for the 2020 Business Travel Show (BTS) at Olympia London. It was an action-packed few days full of exhibiting, meetings, seminars and product demonstrations. Paul Broughton, Director of New Business for Europe reflects on some highlights from the international business travel event below.
What were your main takeaways from BTS 2020?
This year’s event was extremely spirited and insightful. Some of the most exciting things to come from BTS 2020 was the level of innovation on show across the travel industry. These innovations came in the form of content from non-traditional sources, polarised customer experience offerings and new developments made to drive efficiency and sustainability.
Like most organisations in the travel industry, we are looking towards the future and the latest technologies to better serve business (and leisure) travellers. These technologies formed the basis of our discussions with customers throughout the event and led to the sharing of productive and honest views on how travel professionals can be prepared for next generation in travel.
What were some of the key challenges raised at BTS 2020 for business travel customers?
One of the consistent themes to emerge from our conversations at BTS related to balancing higher demand for personalisation and access to wider travel and accommodation options with adherence to corporate travel policy.
Recent findings from our 2020 Travel Trends research highlighted how Gen Z are driving corporate travel towards a post digital era in Europe in their pursuit of authentic experiences. In fact, a third of Gen Z who currently make up over 32% of the population (more than millennials) have expressed unhappiness at having to align with corporate travel policies.
Businesses have an opportunity to entice digital native talent by using the opportunity of corporate travel as an incentive, but to retain them finding the balance between fulfilling their duty of care responsibilities and keeping their Gen Z colleagues satisfied is a must.
What are some of the key trends the travel industry should be aware of for the future?
If we were to focus on three trends that the industry should be considering when it comes to mobile and digital strategy, they would undoubtably be voice, super apps and machine learning.
Voice recognition technology has been around for a long time but what we are starting to see is a transformation in terms of the type of requests a user can put forward. Previously, voice recognition technology was quite basic and early adopters were applying it to things such as FAQs (nothing ground-breaking) but now with natural language processing technology, there is a lot of scope for change in this space.
When it comes to super apps, this is a trend that is dominating in Southeast Asia at the moment. Examples such as Wechat and Grab give their users a one-stop shop to communicate, shop online, book travel, bank, and pay for anything within a single, unified smartphone app. The west is starting to recognise the potential of super apps. Some of our customers, like major TMC BCD are already leaders in app innovation so we’re sure lots of TMCs will be thinking about how they can differentiate themselves to their customers by innovating in this space. Keep an eye out during 2020!
Finally, AI and machine learning is currently in a prediction phase but has started to move beyond that into actions and recommendations. In the coming years we still start to see very strong signs of this progress across apps and the digital space in general, but the question remains, who will be the trailblazers?
It is an exciting time for Travelport and change is taking place throughout the company in order to prepare us for a new era in travel. BTS was a great opportunity to update our stakeholders on the vigorous work going on behind the scenes, share findings from our Global Digital Traveller Research (GDTR) and hear different perspectives from other companies in the travel ecosystem. I am already looking forward to next year’s event.
This article first appeared on TravelMole