Think leisure players aren’t touching business travel, think again
Yet there they were, at last week’s Business Travel Show in London with Uber exhibiting for the first time alongside other newcomers to corporate travel such as Booking.com For Business.
With one-in-five bookings on Booking.com made for business purposes, there’s no denying the gradual march into the sector, hence the launch of Booking.com For Business last year.
But it was Egencia senior director for global sales Europe Matthieu Champion who had people sitting up when he shared an anecdote from a travel booker from a bank who is going to use Airbnb.
Naturally, Champion, who was speaking as part of a Tnooz-led panel, asked how the company was getting round the duty of care and security concerns to be told that the bank had made agreements with its insurance company and its risk management company.
Admittedly the bank’s travellers are looking to Airbnb for extended stay trips which supports GBTA findings from last year revealing that almost 75% of Millennials had taken an extended stay in the past 12 months.
But what the anecdote shows is that these companies are now firmly on the business travel radar and with big corporate players too – it’s not those Millennial mavericks some might assume.
During the same panel Booking.com senior product owner Ripsy Bandourian also touched on extended stay and how data had revealed certain behaviours to the company.
She shared that Booking.com tried to put together a hypothesis of what makes a business hotel for its Booking.com For Business platform. Over a year it tracked bookings and mined the text of reviews for hotels to find that the list it revealed as relevant for business was very different to its original hypothesis.
Bandourian added that one of the areas where its hypothesis went wrong was in the volume of people staying in a “non-hotel” which she described as a healthy proportion.
GBTA regional vice president EMEA Catherine McGavock talked of the opportunity for travel managers and suppliers as the big data phenomenon drives organisations to target individuals at the time they are making decisions.
She added that the organisation is working to find out what’s important to business travellers – such as personal elements and extended stay – at certain points in the trip to help travel management companies and travel managers.
However, Bandourian pointed out that change is needed in how product development in the B2B space is thought about.
“We see so much effort and time spent on consumer products, products that are easy to use, but it’s not often you hear the same in the B2B space. It’s about spending time to see what it is that would make it easy to use.
“It’s the DNA of consumer companies but has not quite transitioned into the B2B space. It spans pretty much every vertical.”
And that pretty much sums up the current situation – content is getting there with Gett and Concur and Egencia and Uber announcing partnerships last week but the tools of the trade still have a bit of catching up to do in terms of mirroring the leisure experience.
NB: Disruption image via Shutterstock.
Linda Fox is deputy editor for Tnooz. For the past eight years she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine.
In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management and research companies.
Prior to her freelance career she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.