Arlene Coyle from technology firm Amadeus gives her views on the next evolution of managed business travel
Do you ever get the feeling on a business trip that only the corporate part of you gets to travel? I spend roughly eight weeks a year on the road, doing short- and long-haul, domestic, European and intercontinental travel in equal measure. What I love most when travelling, is being on the ground with clients in their environment, talking the talk and walking the walk, as they say. But equally, I use my travel time to do the things I don’t have the time for in normal life.
Take, for example, the time you spend at the airport, or more accurately the time you spend as you go from A to B. That walk through the airport shops, browsing that new book from your favourite author, grabbing a quiet coffee, contemplating a new set of headphones or catching up on emails in the lounge (for those who are granted access!). Think of the evening at the hotel after your all-day meeting and nipping out for a quick run, or catching up on the latest Netflix series.
Now imagine your accommodation with the yoga video at the ready, or some free weights and a choice of workout on your widescreen, or a hotel app suggesting a great park with a run track as an option, transferable to your smartphone. Imagine getting a list of restaurants, or the whereabouts of local bands playing, with offers in the vicinity for you to enjoy during your downtime. Imagine the taxi pop-up onscreen suggesting a time for your airport transfer.
Where does all of this fit into managed travel? Where does it feature in the planning, approval, booking and expense process? Where does it feature in the travel policy? The answer is: it doesn’t yet. However, the fact that these offers are not currently there, does not prevent us from wishing we could do all the above and more.
The reality is that there is so much more to business travel than who foots the bill. Yet many players are not seeing the opportunity to provide these services to travellers.
Business travel is so much more than a corporate overhead. There is a wide-open space today for many to fill when it comes to satisfying the business traveller on the road under the remit of corporate travel. The day of the corporate citizen is really quite long – believe me, as someone who suffers from jetlag, it is possible for a day to last 36 hours. And the opportunities are rife to provide an altogether better travel experience.
Yet in the managed travel world, we are still looking at business travel through the shrewd eyes of compliance, policy and expense. But the experience and the fun of travel seems to be in the hands of the already weary business traveller who is often left to his or her own devices the minute they leave the office – it seems to me there is so much more that could be done for them.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for travel policy to become a social policy, nor for risk and compliance to give way to freeloading. Neither am I asking business travellers to become mavericks or to get out and live life differently.
Simply, I believe there is so much more to travel than the expense. If all the players in the travel ecosystem – from TMCs to airports, to technology providers, hospitality players, and even eateries and destination services – were all to focus a little bit more on what the traveller wants, or is likely to want, I suspect we may be able to put the fun back into business travel, and create happier corporate citizens.
This is why at Amadeus we have been advocating our vision with the corporate citizen right at the centre of Managed Travel 3.0. Managed Travel 3.0 is all about us, the corporate citizen, and how technology will create the opportunity for a more connected ecosystem, with more interaction and a better on-the-road experience, while respecting the needs of the corporation.
What Managed Travel 3.0 implies is that the professional and personal can co-exist – even in business travel.
To find out more about Amadeus Managed Travel 3.0, check out our corporate blog, and find our whitepaper on the topic at amadeus.com/managed-travel
Arlene Coyle is head of managed travel at travel technology company Amadeus. She has close to 20 years’ experience working in the managed travel sector, all in client-facing roles working for major TMCs, as well as holding regional and global posts with Amadeus.