For corporate travel, both opportunities and obstacles abound in 2020
By BTE Think Tank, Gloria Gonzalez
It’s hard to believe that we are welcoming 2020. Time is flying by. As a travel manager, I’m always trying to plan for the upcoming year, setting up goals for my company as well as for myself.
Here are some of the topics that are on my mind as we enter the New Year. • The disruptors – What’s next? Technology is always presenting something new, but more and more we talk about disruption, not merely innovation. We’ve seen how smartphones, Amazon and the sharing economy have changed practically everything. Artificial intelligence and blockchain are out there looming large. But what’s beyond the horizon we can’t yet see? • Hotel vs Airbnb – This area is ever changing. The days when a bed in a box was good enough are long gone. Now it’s about alternative accommodations and traveler experience. RFP season will be interesting. • Lyft/Uber and all the other ground transportation alternatives – Will anyone rent cars anymore? What is this going to do to my car contracts? • Data – What does it really mean? What does it mean for my company, and for my travel program? How can this information provide a more efficient, more meaningful experience for my travelers. How can help me be more effective? Can we standardize the way data is managed? Can it be delivered in a way I can make heads or tails of it? • REAL ID – Is this the year it’s really going to happen? What should my travelers do about it, and how can I help them? • The Presidential election – This quadrennial event is always disruptive to some extent, but 2020 perhaps more than ever. • International travel/cross borders – Rising travel costs, trade tensions, global conflicts, duty of care, political and economic uncertainty, are just a few of the concerns facing corporate travel. • 737 Max – When will it fly, and what will that mean for capacity and pricing? • Meetings – Is this going to be a growing area for the travel department?
These are just a few of the areas in the coming year that give me pause, and to be honest, I don’t have the answers to all these questions. The travel industry has always been ever changing – and 2020 will be no different. So no doubt this list will surely continue to grow as we talk with other travel managers, travel partners and travelers.
What must I do? Certainly I feel that I need to stay on top of these topics. I need to connect with a solid group of industry experts who will brainstorm together to come up with solutions. I need to continually grow, to understand best practices. And finally, I need to listen to my travelers. Change happens: How we prepare for and deal with the change is up to us.
However, come what may, we’ll muddle through it somehow. So as the New Year brings new opportunities, I wish you the very best in 2020.