Travelers have less confidence in airlines than ever before. IT meltdowns bring flights across the country to a halt. Oversold flights regularly ruin travelers’ days. Checked baggage fees and charges for preferred seating continue to creep up. It’s not hard to see why travelers are grumpy and frustrated and airlines are feeling the pressure to compensate and re-earn traveler loyalty.
As airlines try to avoid further disgruntling their passengers, outside parties seize the opportunity to fill a void and leave travelers with a positive customer service experience (not the norm today).
Airport Sherpa, for example, is a new app that lets travelers with short layovers to place orders for airport food from their mobile device and then have the order delivered directly to the departure gate. Online luggage shipping, such as Sendmybag.com and Luggage Free, are also gaining popularity among travelers who are looking for better deals. Considering that domestic carriers earned a whopping $3.5 billion last year from checked-bag fees, these new services have the potential to disrupt the airline and travel industries.
All of these airline upgrades and new tech options for more efficient and enjoyable travel experiences are welcomed by travelers, but they present a new set of challenges for corporate travel management teams. Just when corporations thought their travel policies were up to date, along comes another app or service. As a result, business travelers and their companies are left wondering how to expense upgrades, what to do with travel rewards, or how to take advantage of any special last-minute deals that are becoming more commonplace and accessible.
Track Spending Patterns and Adjust Policies
The most important thing companies can do when it comes to handling these changes is simply not to fight it. Embrace the new normal.
While easier said than done, companies are quickly learning that the new generation of business travelers want flexibility, freedom and a fusion of their business travel with their personal life and travel preferences. Today’s business travelers want to take advantage of the latest apps and services while traveling for business, without feeling the oppressive hand of “corporate policies.”
By monitoring T&E transactions using AI-powered technology, companies can keep an eye on employees’ spending patterns and behaviors and adjust their policies as new technologies, apps, travel services and upgrades emerge.
Being agile with the ever-changing travel landscape is a big step toward current and future success in creating and implementing effective travel and expense policies. Companies should be mindful that today’s business traveler loves a deal. If they can take advantage of an airline upgrade or promotion, they will expect to be able to, even if the overall expense of the trip doesn’t impact their personal bottom line. Beyond meeting the employees’ needs, companies can also turn the airlines’ pandering into tangible and meaningful savings in business travel costs.
In the end, you can’t fight the future, and frankly, you really don’t want to. Airlines will likely continue to blunder. The geniuses who are hard at work developing new apps for our smartphones promise to make our lives even better and more convenient. In the end, it means cost savings for your company and a happier traveler coming back to the office on Monday.
For more tips on how to build a T&E program that keeps up with industry trends and changing employee spending habits, download our new eBook.