Business Travel: The Next 50 years

 GTMC’s overseas conference, monte carlo


Who said work couldn’t be fun?….If dinner on the beach does not sound appealing to you, Business Travel may not be your industry.

Kylie Wright, GTMC Digital Marketer

GTMC’s Sunday night welcome dinner for all attendee’s in Monte Carlo, June 201

At the GTMC we aim to be the voice of business travel, representing over 80% of managed business travel in the UK. We have recently held our 50th Anniversary Overseas Conference in Monte Carlo, Monaco, to commemorate the rapidly progressive journey that has taken place in both the Travel Industry and for GTMC. The theme of the next 50 years also lingered as we shared our thoughts and predictions on the future of business travel.

Without any given direction or certainty leading the travel industry down a comfortable path, we witness plenty of Travel management companies, Industry Partners and Members devising new strategy’s at any given challenge. Clearly this is the correct initiative, however, when our eyes and minds are opened together we are able to delve into a futuristic reality of where we’re heading as an industry. We can predict, determine and contemplate a potential avenue that our organisations should go down by embracing trends, the economy & most importantly, people — and with technology as an enabler, its critical to remain one step ahead. Business Travel is an Industry of challenge and strategy, not just for the leaders. With that being said, we were delighted to have a varied panel of well respected speakers discussing these controversial yet relevant issues that will undoubtedly effect our industry in the future.

Tim Hewish (Royal Commonwealth Society) Gerard Lyons (Economic Advisor & Director a tge Bank of China UK) Tim Montgomerie (Political Activist & Columnist) at GTMC’s Overseas Conference, Monaco

How will brexit affect the business travel industry?

Tim Hewish, Director of Policy & Research at the Royal Commonwealth Society proclaims that now is a great opportunity for TMC’s and organisations to focus on building relationships with the commonwealth countries. We would be “limiting ourselves of business” if we did not. Hewish emphasised that Business Travel within the Commonwealth is a driver of economic growth as it provides room for job creation as well as increased investments.

The Commonwealth Society’s research shows that only 8% of UK trade exports are going to commonwealth countries — which still amounts to an impressive 41bn (2015). Dr. Linda Yueh, Adjunct Professor at London Business School and RCS Trustee states –

It is worth reactivating the long standing trading relationships embedded within the network of 53 nations comprising the Commonwealth. As smaller economies than the US, China, and the EU, it may be possible to conclude trade deals more quickly with the Commonwealth nations and allow Britain to gain the benefits of trade as well as notch up more practical experience in negotiating deals before it tackles the biggest countries in the world.”

Polling undertaken by IFF Research -January 2017, indicates that British Businesses think the most important trading partners for the UK in the post – Brexit environment are:

  • 90% Australia
  • 82% Canada
  • 82 % Singapore
  • 79% New Zealand
  • 72% India
  • 70% South Africa

At GTMC, we want to emphasise the message that trade between the UK & the Commonwealth is crucial for our economy to prosper. We must use every available network we have to survive in the market by actively forming relationships with the giant markets of Africa and Asia, whilst providing a helping hand to our commonwealth partners. This is patently not what we are used to as an economy, however, these connections can clearly amount to much more with trade and exports increasing.                                                                                                                                                                                   For example, our Oxford Economics studies suggests that a 1% increase in business travel would increase UK GDP by  £390 million. A way in which we can Re-Connect with the Commonwealth is already being discussed as a New International Trade & Investment paper, according to Tim Hewish. The Singapore PM has already warmed to the idea “Singapore would be ready to sign a free trade deal with Britain after it exits Brexit”.                                 So, our future in Business Travel could look like forming relations with our Commonwealth partners in a bid to comprise a larger scale economy.

TECHNOLOGY AND BUSINESS TRAVEL: FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Rohit Talwar, Fast Future Research, talks Future and AI

Rohit Talwar, Futuristic Speaker at Fast Future Research, goes on to enforce the importance of technology for our Industry by revealing new concepts that are currently being designed as we speak. He emphasis’s the necessity of embracing technology whilst making it clear that limitations may occur, as any industry would understand. There is much skepticism of course, but with all that has changed within the last century it would simply be unprofessional to have a closed mind. AI is the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution; with services and products doing much of what we have slaved to do for many years, and for the Travel sector its an opportunity to strive in efficiency through the adaptation of human Interface services, self automated transport and of course, Artificial Intelligence. Dubai’s driver-less flying cars are just one prime example of what is soon to be launched which has the potential to change the ground travel sector immensely if it was to dominate the market. Another dynamic change for the Travel Industry is the implementation of Chatbots, for instance, Mezi. Mezi was originally described as “An Intelligent Virtual Assistant That’s Obsessed With Shopping.” The service is now primarily focused on being a concierge for travel – designed to provide quick responses for those busy consumers. It previously was run 100% by humans and is now a 80-20% human ran app, which is expected to change soon

“Artificial intelligence is poised to transform online travel agencies, airlines, hotels and even local activities businesses. What AI does, it allows travel providers to give customers a concierge or white glove service, instead of telling them to DIY online.””  Mezi’s CEO, Swapnil Shinde 

 

Business Travel is a field where technology can consume as and what it pleases, from ticket distribution to customer service.  It is the buzzword for all Industry’s and is feared, yet embraced by many. Rajeev Kumar, CEO and Founder of Mystifly rightly stated at GTMC’s overseas conference

“Technology cannot do one thing we all can do as humans, and that is to empathise.” 

What is customer service without a true being behind the scenes to sort out issues, when necessary and to the best level? Technology is all algorithm based, in other words it learns externally through the comprehension of data, history and trends. There is a lot more to it undoubtedly however, for an industry that will require personal assistance when issues arise with booking, reservations and cancellations — chucking a robot in to solve it will not suffice. GTMC want to stress the importance that Travel Agencies have on our clients experience with booking flights, accommodation and travel, to name a few. This

Business Travel and face to face meetings will be an essential component of future economic success and prosperity for UK PLC. As the UK detaches itself from an over reliance on the EU Marketplace, significant opportunities exist in the regions of the world where growth is anticipated to be three times larger than that of the EU over the next thirty years. Understanding cultural diversity and how to do business in those markets will take an enormous amount of learning that will require both the Government and Private Sector to assist with. The basics such as who to contact and how to sell in those markets must not be underestimated. An obvious starting point are the Commonwealth countries who have long held cultural and language connections with the UK. No amount of Artificial Intelligence will replace the need for cultures and people to collaborate and do business and whilst automation may replace the transactional element of a travel management companies tasks, more businesses will need expert advice and support in building their businesses in international markets.

The future should be embraced and not feared. Roles will change but the importance of human interaction and empathy will not. Exciting times as we adjust, adapt and learn to be agile in an ever changing environment.

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