Business Gets Personal
The Gig Economy – The New Boss in Charge
Free-spirited flexibility. It’s not just what the world’s growing army of freelancers want; it’s what new generations of full-time employees want, too. And we’re not talking flex work hours and telecommuting days. We’re talking about flexibility of location, worldwide. Many of today’s employees (and tomorrow’s, for sure) want to be able to fold their career ambitions into the fabric of an adventurous lifestyle of cultural experiences. For many, living and working in a far-away city or country has an appealing siren call, and they know that if they love where they live, they’ll love what they do for a living. Smart employers are realizing that, too. Work-life balance is taking on an entirely new meaning.
Self-employed, and sometimes long-distance, career paths are gaining in popularity around the world. For example, according to Alain Roumilhac, president of ManpowerGroup France in a recent Mobility magazine article, the global average of people who want “nextgen” work (part-time, contingent, freelance, independent contractor, or remotely-connected) now stands at 87 percent.
While Millennials do tend to make up the majority of people seeking self-employment or corporate job opportunities in another city or nation, the draw of this new employment model strikes chords across age groups. GenXers in their 40s and 50s are looking afar for work to make the most of the executive status they’ve achieved in their careers, and to give themselves or their families a life adventure. Baby Boomer age employees, executives, and self-employed consultants may want one more chapter to cap their careers before retirement, spent with their husband or wife now that the children are grown and out of the house.
Whatever age group may define today’s extended stay business traveler, there are traits they all share: They want a broad variety of travel and accommodation choices, they want 24/7 personal attention (some because of entitlement, some because of apprehension), and of course they want best quality for value. These traits are also shared by corporate travel planners tasked with finding extended stay travel accommodations for just as diverse a range of employees – intern groups, executives with families, contracted consultants and more. To best serve this expanding customer base, companies in the business travel planning industry are adopting a service model that’s at once simple and complex…Be everything to everyone.
Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication
For generations, business travel planning has been a maze of disparate booking networks, limited property search resources, and no standards in place for customers to rate and select properties. There was no single, easy “go-to” for going to anywhere; it was difficult enough for corporate travel managers, let alone for individual travelers who were trying to plan an extended stay work assignment on their own.
Sophisticated consumers around the world have grown used to the real-time results, transparent comparisons and customer service access of personal travel websites like Expedia, Priceline, Airbnb and Trivago. That same model is now transforming the business travel sphere. Business travel planning companies who are adopting this same “easy, single-resource” approach are not just the disruptors in their industry. They will be the survivors. The leader in this push for single resources is BridgeStreet, whose recently introduced travel booking hub – which also functions through a powerful mobile app – eliminates two key pain points people encounter when planning extended stay business travel. There are too many legacy search platforms to navigate, and immediate access to make or change bookings in real-time just wasn’t seen as a service hallmark of the industry.
Specifically for corporate travel managers, or individual corporate employees arranging their own travel, there’s the added shared need for compliance with their organizations’ travel policies. Everything from budgets to housing types to acceptable locations must be considered, and that’s only the top of the list. The truly successful (read that as “surviving”) business travel planning providers will offer corporate customers the ability to customize their booking platforms into white label, company branded interfaces that control bookings by budget, location and other parameters, and that control which employees have access to the system to book their own travel.
Singularity, of course, requires assimilation and integration. Business travel planning platforms at the forefront are paying close attention to technologies that allow them to be integrated across the many digital systems that still exist in the extended stay corporate travel industry. This integration across new and legacy platforms will level the field by providing all audiences with the most choice of travel options and locations, as well as the price transparency that everyone demands.
“Give me the world. But make it easy.”
Everything. For everyone. One simple, inviting, accountable resource for global corporate travel planning. It’s a tall order for the leaders in the worldwide business travel planning industry to fulfill, especially when they’re trying to simultaneously meet the needs of time-stretched corporate travel managers and apprehensive, often demanding, individual business travelers. Mobile technology, cross-system compatibility, price transparency, real-time booking and immediate customer service are the keys to success for the new leaders in the corporate travel industry.