No one can definitively say what 2023 will bring to business travel but as post-pandemic travel resumed throughout 2022, we saw trends developing. Here are five business travel trends that are expected to strengthen in 2023.
Biometrics will make travel more efficient.
Biometrics, or unique physical characteristics such as fingerprints, are now common in payment apps such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Travelers can expect increased opportunities to use these and other touchless payment systems for travel options like in-flight purchases, hotel upgrades, and train tickets.
COVID-19 forced airlines and airports to reduce touchpoints so biometric technology was readily adopted. A bonus effect is an operational efficiency and time savings for the traveler.
- Biometric check-in and baggage drop systems were piloted in Chicago’s O’Hare and New York’s LaGuardia airports, cutting travelers’ time spent by 30%.
- Los Angeles International Airport’s $1.7 billion terminal expansion uses contactless boarding gates. It can board 400 people in 20 minutes, half of the normal boarding time.
- International business travelers will see immigration and border control speed up at 27 U.S. airports with the use of facial recognition technology.
- Airports will increasingly use fingerprint and retinal scanning technologies for security.
With the growing use and acceptance of biometric-based screening, one day your face may be the only ID you need to carry.
Blended travel continues to increase.
Bleisure travel, the combining of business and leisure travel, has been a business travel trend for several years and there is no indication that it’s going away. Most employees now see business travel as a perk and an enriching experience and enjoy extending for personal motives.
- Younger members of the workforce often want to advantage of a business trip by adding on some vacation time and exploring the new destination’s sights, activities, and food.
- More than half of international business travelers indicated they are willing to extend their trips for leisure activities.
- Many business travelers bring family along, contributing to their work/life balance and well-being.
Work-from-anywhere policies become normalized.
Office shutdowns during the pandemic showed many businesses that it is possible to keep the company functioning while people work remotely. As a result, many of those adjusted their policies and now allow business travelers to become digital nomads. Not all job positions are suited to remote work, but for those that are, countries such as Costa Rica, Georgia, Croatia, Iceland, and Germany created programs and incentives to attract digital workers to make a temporary base there for a month or more.
Another development stemming from remote workforces is the trend for team business travel. Since employees don’t have the proverbial “water cooler” office experience, team meetings and retreats allow colleagues to bond and strengthen relationships. Experts expect a significant increase in team travel programs because they effectively motivate teams, improve employee satisfaction, strengthen company loyalty, and unlock creativity.
A demographic shift is afoot in business travel.
The Millennial generation (born 1981-1996) is firmly entrenched in the corporate workforce now. Generation Z (born 1997-2012) is currently the smallest generation in the workforce, but they are undoubtedly its future. These age groups have different ideals than the traditional business traveler of the past. They want more flexible work models, value work/life balance, and require better mental health on the job.
One business travel trend that exemplifies this shift is the preference for non-traditional accommodations. Studies show that in 2019, over 70% of millennial corporate travelers stayed in boutique hotels or home-like rental accommodations. More travelers stay further away from the city center prioritizing comfort and proximity to leisure activities.
Younger employees prefer remote work and Millennials are particularly inclined to take advantage of leisure travel because of the high value they place on “travel and seeing the world.” Gen Z is the first generation to have internet access, social media, and connected devices since birth. They have an intuitive aptitude for technology and are likely to incorporate it into their business travel in multiple ways. Millennials and Gen Z also have an amplified concern for global sustainability.
Sustainability influences business travel trends.
It’s no secret that travel, air travel emissions, in particular, have a large impact on the environment. It’s also a fact that travel generates growth and is key to building and maintaining business relationships. Therefore, sustainability is one of the hottest topics trending in business travel.
Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) found that 89% of companies are making sustainability a priority. While there are many ways to effect change, it begins with assessing the true carbon costs of travel, creating a strategy, and educating travelers on the environmental effects of travel.
Some sustainability trends in business travel include:
- Updating corporate travel policies by increasing traveler options to balance business costs with employee well-being and sustainability. For example, offering more flexibility in property and rate options, allows employees to align their own needs with company policies.
- Companies prioritizing green hotels in corporate online booking tools and making sustainability-related information a prerequisite for preferred supplier status.
- Providing education for travelers on best practices and technologies that help reduce their carbon footprint.
- Travelers choosing direct flights, using trains when possible, and choosing the most sustainable hotels.
- Travelers packing lighter or even suitcase-free to reduce the airline’s load factor. For example, consider renting golf clubs instead of taking your own with you.
- Organizations and individuals purchasing carbon offsets to compensate for the emissions their travel causes.
Will you adopt any of these emerging business travel trends in the coming year? If you have already, you are one of the trend setters!