Jul 23, 2019

It’s no secret or surprise that in the realm of global business travel accommodations, a lot has changed in just a few years. The days of slow booking processes, having to shop among many different providers, limited accommodation options and travelers’ apprehensions about what they’ll find when they put the key into the door of a faraway temporary residence are disappearing fast.

Business travelers and corporate travel managers want more choices of accommodation types, and they want to be able to go to single sources to find and book them in real time. They also want their choices of accommodations to be backed by transparency and accountability. Accurate photos and descriptions, third-party ratings and certifications, testimonials from other travelers and booking managers, and easy price comparisons between providers and among accommodation types are factors that make or break booking decisions.

In this new era, choice and technology go hand-in-hand. Selecting accommodations for global business travel is like everything else in modern life—it has to happen quickly. The interviews highlighted below conducted from the show floor at the Worldwide ERC’s Global Workforce Symposium 2018 in Seattle prove just that.

“It’s a Supermarket of Choice”
Sean Worker, BridgeStreet President and CEO, summed up the current industry environment with one simple statement: “It’s a supermarket of choice.” Locations, price ranges, accommodation options, length of stay, accommodations for individuals, teams or families…all of these factors require the widest range of choices possible to be available in one place if business travelers and corporate travel managers are going to be able to make quick decisions. To expand on Sean’s use of the term “supermarket,” consider how people in the modern world shop for food. Just a few decades ago in most industrialized nations, people went from store to store based on the foods and other goods they needed – the butcher for meat, the green grocer for fruit and vegetables, the baker for bread and pastry, and even the hardware store for cleaning supplies. But with the advent of the supermarket, everything was at one destination available for comparison shopping across brands and price points. That same concept has even evolved into “hypermarkets,” originating in Europe and Asia but known to most Americans by names like Walmart Supercenter and Target Greatland stores. You in the checkout line with a week’s groceries, a parent next to you with new school clothes for the kids, and someone else with gardening tools. It’s exactly the same phenomenon now with global business travel accommodations.

Creative Solutions from Single-Source Providers
Julie Colman, Shell Corporation’s Global Mobility Manager for the Americas Region, brought up a key point about why corporate travel executives and managers like herself immediately gravitate to providers that offer many creative options under one roof. Because extended-stay business travelers’ needs have become so much more diverse in the past several years, travel managers simply don’t have the time or bandwidth to search among multiple providers to find appropriate solutions. On any given day, a travel manager may have to find accommodations quickly for a top-level executive on an extended-stay assignment in Singapore, a team of interns on a six-week stay in Barcelona, and an upper-level manager and her entire family on a two-year placement to open a new regional branch in Osaka. All of those challenges must be solved before the work day ends. One-stop shopping—again, that “supermarket” filled with choices—is crucial. 

This all-important need for comprehensive accommodation choices from a single source that can provide real-time solutions is what’s driving change in the global business travel sector.