Here’s Why Business Travel Needs to Be Better
Business travel, despite advances in the ways we add convenience to our lifestyle and work processes, is still lagging behind. It’s tedious and time consuming, and it needs to be better.
Below Benny Yonovich, the CEO of Arbitrip, delves into the matter, touching on the current frustrations businesses face and the need for a collective effort in resolving these.
Technology makes life easier. I truly believe that this statement rings true in 99% of scenarios – the computing power we have at our disposal makes it possible to swiftly and accurately complete tasks which previously would have been time consuming, dull and prone to human error. We are wirelessly plugged into instantly available, limitless knowledge for the first time in human history – a factor which has massively disrupted traditional ways that businesses have functioned.
Previously sacrosanct gatekeepers, who were privy to guarded information are having to change their modus operandi to stay relevant, else risk disruptors coining themselves ‘the Uber of…’ stealing chunks of market share by offering businesses quicker, cheaper and more personalized services using now publicly available information. Within my own company, I’ve seen our accountancy firm be replaced by simple to use accounting software, our local cab company disappear into a plethora of apps, and our translation agency close under the ease of One Hour Translation. Simply put, our service providers didn’t evolve fast enough to meet the growing expectations and demands of their customers and were replaced – their previously protected industries now democratized.
One industry that is refusing to budge is close to my heart – ‘business travel’. I’ll be the first to admit, it can be a pain. Finding decent, affordable hotels (often at the last minute) for yourself or your company can be time consuming, confusing and frustrating. There are ways around it – we’ve implemented custom search filters, auto-price drops, smart reports… but it’s not enough. We simply are not able to provide our clients what they want and need, as the industry itself has not evolved, and I believe it’s at risk of being disrupted or even replaced.
A typical business traveler wants to minimize their time out of the office or away from home, often landing, hoping to drop off baggage, freshen up and go to a meeting, then leaving early the next day, or late the next evening. Being bound to a 3pm check in, and midday checkout means either booking extra days or being forced to juggling baggage, meetings, and transport. Even with early check in and late check out, the flexibility that customers require simply isn’t there. Going a step further (and a personal pet peeve), hotels that brand themselves as ‘business hotels’, yet still charge for WiFi, printing, and meeting space do a disservice to the industry – these are no longer luxuries but should be considered standard.
As a service provider in the business travel industry, I want to rally a call to arms. Customers are demanding ease of use, personalization and flexibility – we know this based on the tens of thousands of bookings we field from around the world. Hotels (especially those catering to business travel), I urge you to revisit your processes and offerings from the point of view of your customers and strive to make their experiences easier.
Kudos to some market leaders like CitizenM, with their 24/7 food and drinks, 1 minute check in, and unlimited WiFi, and Hilton, who’s innovations are paving the way for others to follow – digital check-in, NFC keys from your phone and more customizable room choices – each move the needle in their own way. I for one hope that others don’t simply follow in their footsteps, but forge their own path to making business travel a smoother process for everyone.