Is this the end of traditional travel policies?

Innovative proposals for business travel are attracting a growing number of travelers, despite their frequent incompatibility with existing travel policies. These policies seem to need an overhaul in order to allow more flexibility and customization. But in light of the required increase in vigilance due to the Covid-19 crisis, what will these look like in the future?

“The era of straightforward travel policies is almost at an end. New technologies have already set this metamorphosis in motion: travel managers are now able to encourage travelers to comply through more dynamic, flexible, responsive and individualized methods.” Mike Eggleton, Senior Manager, Analytics and Research, at BCD Travel, sums up the shift that many companies are currently facing.

A new approach is necessary in this area, as innovative proposals available within the sector are increasingly encouraging end-users to break the rules currently in force within their organizations. And the success of these new stakeholders was not long in coming. In 2018, 15% of stays recorded on the Airbnb collaborative hosting platform were for professional reasons. The same year, a study published by Egencia revealed that 35% of French business travelers have already considered turning to innovative proposals emanating from the collaborative economy for their business travel.

Rather than fighting against a seemingly unavoidable change in practices, security experts for business travel, such as those at International SOS, are inviting companies to integrate these new business travel players into their processes for supervising and monitoring employees remotely. This is all the more necessary as health surveillance and constant advice become increasingly important in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Travel report entitled “Emerging technology and travel management: Policy“, also published in 2018, highlights the need to “implement new technologies and replace the current rigid and predefined travel policy model with a truly dynamic, intuitive and personalized behavior management engine.” The notion of a travel policy will soon give way to the notion of a traveler policy. It is no longer a question of focusing on a policy suitable for everyone, but on proposals adapted to each employee, in accordance with their needs and responsibilities.

Technological innovation at the heart of change

Machine learning is set to play a key role in the development of tomorrow’s intelligent travel policies. For example, it can enable messages to be sent to travelers in order to encourage them to favor a particular destination hotel based on their specific interests. Suggestions may be made based on the proximity of a metro line, or a hotel with a gym for the more active employee. The trend is therefore towards finding a compromise between the traveler’s wishes and compliance with the applicable rules.

Machine learning also makes it possible to check whether the proposed trip is really necessary. Depending on the initial justification, the system is then able to suggest remote communication and automatically search for available rooms for video conferencing on the relevant date.

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