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Top Business Travel Trends for 2024 And Their Potential Pitfalls

Over a fifth of business travellers (22%) will be going on work trips more this year than before the pandemic, doubling the 11% reported in 2023.

Workplaces and employees’ approaches to work have radically changed following the pandemic, as have business trips. Online travel booking platform AllFly shares key ways in which business travel has changed and the pitfalls these changes may pose for those in the industry. Kenny Totten, COO of online travel booking platform AllFly, explains,”The pandemic completely altered how people work. So, it’s only natural that this has transformed how we travel for work, too.”

Vacation Rentals

A new trend in business travel is incorporating vacation rentals, Airbnbs, and VRBOs into work trips.  The rise in work trips including vacation rentals has been stark. It aligns with the growing popularity of bleisure travel. Now that employees are adding extra days on either end of work trips to either enjoy some time off or work remotely, they are looking for accommodation that is more of a “home away from home”, where they can relax and unwind while also being able to tick off tasks without being disturbed. The recent popularity of vacation rentals for work trips has raised safety concerns. Rentals rarely have the same level of security as hotels. While hotels often have security cameras in place, a day and night concierge team and security at the door, you are lucky if there are security cameras outside a rental. This raises concerns for the safety of employees, along with things like company laptops which are full of confidential information.

Corporate Travel Responsibility

Corporate responsibility and sustainable travel initiatives are set to take the spotlight in 2024, with more companies starting to measure, manage, and reduce carbon emissions linked to business travel. Whether this involves more use of public transport, sustainable accommodation or carbon offset schemes, or avoiding connecting flights, more and more companies are taking responsibility for the environmental impacts of their corporate trips and finding ways to reduce and minimize emissions. This is because the pandemic showed that many businesses can operate completely remotely when they have to. While not as productive or efficient, it can technically be done. This has caused corporate travel to appear as something a company chooses to do rather than an unavoidable necessity, leading many to take more accountability for the emissions it causes. While this trend is undoubtedly a positive one, it is likely to result in higher costs.

Exploring AI

In 2024, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a major topic of discussion in the travel industry. This year we will see Its place within business operations really starting to be explored. We are going to see a significant increase in the adoption of AI across travel management platforms this year. This is likely to come in the form of chatbots and virtual assistants that will help businesses organize work trips by answering queries and making bookings. While this may speed things up, it is definitely set to lead to issues. AI chatbots are known to have slipped up and provided inaccurate information. After all, they are only programed to deal with pre-empted queries and requests and are only capable of regurgitating the information needed to answer these. In addition, the nuances of company requests can easily get lost with a chatbot.

Prioritising Employee Wellbeing

Companies are prioritising employee wellbeing much more than they used to this year. Many businesses are taking a compassionate approach, weighing up how different elements of the trip are likely to stress employees. The goal is to track and manage potential health impacts more effectively and make small adjustments to make the experience more relaxing, such as adding a hotel stay before an early meeting. Some companies are going further by providing yoga mats and Peloton bikes in hotel rooms, purchasing spa or gym access for employees, and incorporating elements of leisure travel into corporate trips to make the experience as calming and stress-free as possible. The only thing companies need to be wary of with this trend is the importance of personalization. The needs of young employees in their twenties differ from those in their fifties or sixties. Additionally, while the gym might be one person’s happy place, it could be a source of anxiety or disinterest for another. And so, this wellness ‘perk’ may not be relaxing for every employee and could ultimately be a wasteful expense. When integrating wellness resources for employees, it’s essential to cater to their personal preferences. If you aren’t sure what they are, you can always ask them.

Increasing costs of hotels and flights

Global business travel and event costs are projected to continue increasing in 2024, though at a slower pace than the significant spikes seen in 2022 and 2023. Hotel prices are following a similar trend, driven by heightened demand and limited supply. This upsurge is mainly due to rising fuel expenses, inflation, and labor shortages. The downside is clear: higher costs for the same trips. As companies navigate these rising costs, many are re-evaluating their travel policies and exploring cost-saving measures such as advanced booking, renegotiating supplier contracts, and leveraging travel management technologies.

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