Traveler Experience (TX) has in recent years been a huge focus for the business travel industry. Before this year, TX discussions centered about perks, flexibility (more lenient policies), rewarding certain behavior, and yes – even bleisure! The team at Tripkicks was so inspired that we built a product around it.
Although so much of our world has changed, I would argue that TX is more of a focus right now than it ever was – it just looks a little different. By definition, its focus needs to transform when the priorities and concerns of travelers change. And change they have!
Modern Traveler Experience is about support, guidance, it’s about re-assurance; and providing the right recommendations. It’s about caring for the well-being of the traveler, the environment; and for a company – it’s equally as important to demonstrate that care.
In recent years, one of the constant battles fought by managed travel programs was to get travelers “in” the program; prevent “leakage”. Despite creative messaging, executive mandates, and being gradually equipped with mobile tools, business travelers still preferred to “do their own thing”. Don’t get me wrong – some organizations have been successful in minimizing leakage – but few would argue that it’s not a constant battle.
Now, as the travel industry is managing through its largest disruption, business travel programs have been presented with perhaps its largest opportunity to win this ongoing battle. Never has there been more of a need or desire for a traveler to belong to a managed program. Business travelers want to know that the organization is looking out for them – has their back; and is actively helping to ensure that they make good decisions, or at the very least – don’t make bad ones! Travelers want more guidance from the experts (hint: if you’re reading this, that’s you!), and they want to know what you recommend, and why. It’s equally as important to remember what they do NOT want: increased complexity, more data-entry, and a regression from automated processes. After all, we are in the ‘20s, and integrated technology is table-stakes.
Forward-thinking travel programs will always have a defined roadmap; never satisfied with the status-quo. My message to all companies is that there has never been a better time to invest in your travel program. Travelers want your help, they want more support, and at this moment – they are willing to forget the reasons why they dissented in the past. We are at a point where changes to travel programs are more than okay. Executives expect it, travelers demand it, and taking a lesson from pre-2020 TX (and this now-“recovering” road-warrior); they deserve it.
And let’s not forget about suppliers. Suppliers to the ecosystem of managed travel face a challenge that’s equally as compelling. It’s fight or flight (no pun intended), and we must adapt to survive. Adapting means reprioritizing your roadmap, starting with a clean slate for client requirements, and the seemingly unfathomable – figuring out how to invest during this time. Business travel needs to come out of this different than how we went in. Investing in ways to deepen personalization, further the connected journey, and ensure the security of our travelers will allow us to address Modern Traveler Experience.
For so many years, we have allowed leisure travel technologies to overtake those of business travel. Business travel programs and its suppliers now have a requirement to refocus on travel experience, and an unprecedented opportunity to drive our industry forward. Let’s get back to it. #travelbetter