According to an article published by Fast Company in the wake of the Global Business Travel Association’s 2013 convention, the lines between personal and business travel are becoming increasingly unclear.
In recent years, consumer travel technology has produced a growing range of smart tools to help travellers find their way around airports and hotels in foreign countries. These tools have made travel much easier for employees in their personal lives. Now, they want the same luxuries when they travel for business. There are finally tools available that can deliver the same convenience for personal travel use as well as for business. Companies have been creating technology with a similar look and feel to popular consumer technology, but using advanced back-end technology that meets corporate needs. This can finally close the gap between personal and business travel.
Business Travel: A Youth Movement?
35% of today’s workforce consists of Millennials, a figure that is expected to double by 2020. But even more surprisingly is how quickly the baby boomer generation has started to behave like Millennials in the ways they interact with new digital technologies. According to a GlobalWebIndex study, the 55-64 age bracket on Twitter is the fastest growing demographic, having experienced 79% growth since 2012. On Facebook and Google Plus, the fastest growing demographic is the 45-54 age group; growing at 46% and 56% respectively.
With demographics like these, Fast Company point out that the digital travel industry is experiencing a ‘youth movement’. Younger generations are mainly driving this movement, but older generations are participating too - having become more comfortable with technology in their personal lives. Regardless of age, the next-generation business travellers have a whole different set of expectations when it comes to the travel tools they use today.
Even the airlines are revamping their offerings for the growing group of next-generation business travellers. For example, JetBlue, has introduced a business traveller ‘experience’, which includes touchscreen seat controls, charging stations, and free Wi-Fi.
The Race for Mobile Superiority
The fact that travel is innately a highly mobile activity is nothing new. But the mobile focused approach among technology providers is new. They recognise the fact that end users are now more likely to overlook web or PC-based technology and choose mobile access instead.
New technologies give travellers the ability to manage personal and business travel in one place while keeping the boss informed of their business itineraries. Stronger back-end data capabilities and corporate card integrations are helping travellers stay one step ahead, with automatic trip updates and notifications when special offers are available.
The near future
2014 is likely to bring increased integration, with technology companies and travel service suppliers continuing to join forces to create better experiences for travellers. The norm is gradually becoming technology that delivers the best user experience without losing sight of business priorities.
For example, peer-to-peer services have been gaining popularity with consumers, but security issues still discourage their usage for business travel, which could be a major barrier to entering the business travel world. On the other hand, platforms like SeatGuru are gaining traction. If they can find a way to securely integrate with corporate-booking platforms and travel policies, they may provide an attractive option both for personal travellers and business travel programmes.
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