Phocuswright Europe: Business travel's value is being seen in the pandemic recovery

Phocuswright Europe: Business travel's value is being seen in the pandemic recovery

Egencia and TripActions shared the stage at last week's event in Amsterdam to discuss the prospects for corporate travel and the role it can play in the post-COVID economic recovery

COVID underlined the value of business travel and the leading role it can play in the economic post-pandemic recovery.

Egencia head of worldwide SME sales, Ronan Bergez, told last week’s Phocuswright Europe conference said the need to both attract and retain talent makes business travel more vital.

The American Express Global Business Travel-owned TMC shared a stage with fellow corporate travel management company TripActions to discuss prospects for the sector.

Bergez said: “I do not know any business that has not changed over the last two years. Every business has changed.

“What’s interesting is to look at the main impacts; the talk about sustainability, about culture, remote working and distributed workforces. These are the three main impacts.

“What’s changed is the way we do business, the way we work and the way we do business travel. One of the positive outcomes is the value of business travel. 

“More than ever business travel is playing a key role for every business. There are challenges for company which are super-critical.

“On the one hand they have to handle the economic recovery, on the other hand they have to attract and retain talent which makes the value of business travel even more important.

“We believe there is a great opportunity in front of us for business travel to be one of the key drivers of a more sustainable recovery.”

Chevawm Blum, senior product marketing manager for TripActions, said the pandemic saw an acceleration of digitisation. 

And she said the focus has turning more on to the traveller and providing a consumer-grade experience as opposed to the corporate travel manager.

“During the pandemic progress has sped up by seven years in terms of how we have adopted digitalisation so the voice of the consumer is being heard.

“It used to be the travel manager at the top of the pile but what’s flipped is the traveller having a bit of a louder voice at the table.

“Consumers have improved expectations for a better consumer-grade experience. And with a distributed workforce the reasons for travel have changed.”

Blum said high levels of adoption of its platform, particularly on mobile, is something that TripActions prides itself on and indicates that it is delivering a consumer-grade experience.

Bergez agreed that business travellers are expecting the same sort of experience as consumers and there is no reason why they should not be provided with that.

He said with Egencia and American Express combining its capabilities it has a great opportunity to deliver on the experience travellers and travel managers expect.

“When you bring together one of the best technology platforms with the best content and best events as long as it’s bringing value to clients and partners it makes sense,” he said.

Blum said business travel is coming under greater scrutiny so travel managers need accurate real-time data and information so they can keep spending within limits.

“There’s greater scrutiny, especially as we move into a more discretionary environment. 

“Also, duty of care is evolving to include traveller wellbeing, so much more than where they are and what they’re doing.

“How are we going to actually put those duty of care theories that were stress tested during COVID into practice. They are no longer theories, it’s real world practice now.”

Bergez said the role of the travel manager is evolving and they can play a pivotal role in corporates to drive sustainable, employee wellbeing and innovation agendas.

“There’s a great opportunity for the travel manager to operate as a chief journey officer. That’s the way we like to see it. 

“At the same time there’s a great opportunity for travel managers to have more impact to connect business travel with all of the firms’ business goals.”