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How voice, phone tech will alter business travel in 2020

Writing for Traveltalk, Amadeus vice president of sales, corporations, NADIA YAHIAOUI explains how employees are exercising greater freedom when they’re travelling for work.

This year we’ve seen sharing economy services like Airbnb and Uber rise in popularity, greater use of self-service platforms to book flights and accommodation, and employees maximising the personal perks of business travel.



New technology and the importance of business travel to drive company growth has seen the balance of power shift to the employees. With corporate travel spending to hit $1.7 trillion by 2022, organisations and travel management companies that recognise and adapt to these changes in behaviour will stand to benefit from happier and more productive employees, and can crack the ROI conundrum of business travel.


In 2020, we anticipate more Australian organisations looking to utilise new technology and solutions to meet the needs and expectations of their travelling digital workforce, and new industry players bringing bold ideas and options for corporate travel buyers. Let’s explore some these trends in more detail.


1. Enabling voice-based travel experiences 

Voice is one of the most exciting technology trends to have emerged in recent years. Put simply, voice recognition is a computer software or hardware device with the ability to understand human speech. In doing so, devices can be controlled by voice command, without having to use a keyboard or mouse. 


Voice is revolutionising our personal devices, from smartphones to kitchen appliances to cars. It’s now set to change the corporate travel sector, by enabling a better and more flexible employee experience. As travel companies invest in voice technology, organisations will have quicker access to an employees’ profile, real-time alerts and in-flight amenities checks within a single natural sentence. 


For example, travel search company Kayak uses voice recognition to assign quick actions to an employees’ smartphone’s virtual assistant. Employees can use the tool to ask “dates on your flight” or “fastest route to the airport: and get a helpful result, all without typing. Expedia skill for Amazon Alexa could also be used to help employees manage their upcoming trips through voice interactions, such as car reservations. 



2. Embracing the ‘one stop shop’ super apps 

The super-app model is one that is growing rapidly in emerging markets such as India, South America and Southeast Asia. The “Super App” creates an ecosystem where consumers can access variety of good services and products all in one place – whether that be groceries, travel or concert tickets.


At the moment, employees have to juggle so many apps for airlines, travel agencies and hotels. The super-app concept is becoming more appealing, as it gives them the ability to book, make changes, get an itinerary and claim expense – all on one single app - the “all-in-one” solution. Australian organisations will need to bear this in mind when reviewing the options they make available to their employees in 2020.  


Much like WeChat has done for years, other travel companies like Grab, LINE and Traveloka are expanding into other verticals and adding functionalities and content to their apps. While remaining true to its core service, messaging app LINE is adding a number of services including payment and food delivery. On the other hand, Traveloka is focusing on specific traveller needs and pain points by adding bus and shuttle, top-up and data packages, attractions and activities, and airport transfer services. 


3. Real-time technology for flexible working arrangements

Bleisuire – the idea of mixing business and leisure – is increasing popular among business travellers and employers canbenefit from this trend. Research from CWT found that employees who add extra days into business trips to explore a new destination in their own time are more productive and satisfied with business travel, which in turns reduces employee turnover and burnout in organisations.   


The Bleisure movement has also coincided with another business travel trend: working remotely. The use of real-time messaging and collaborative hubs like Zoom and Slack is making it easier for employees to communicate and work on projects with their teams, while commuting or working from homes and cafes. 


As the lines between workspace and leisure space continue to blur, organisations will face new challenges on how to offer these flexible working arrangements. Beyond resolving how expenses are handled and at what point a business trip turns into vacation time – organisations have duty of care responsibility for their employees’ safety and wellbeing while they are on the road for work. 


In the year ahead, organisations will need to consider solutions that enable them to fulfil their duty of care requirements, while being mindful of employees’ preferences. With tools like ISOS’ TravelTracker and Amadeus’ Mobile Messenger, organisations can provide real-time assistance to employees during disruptions or critical events, and access information on a location’s health and security risk rating.  



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Written by: Nadia Yahiaoui
Published: 11 December 2019

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