1. How business travel in India is changing

How business travel in India is changing

While travel and tourism is one of the largest and growing service sectors in our country, the economic uptick marks the escalation of corporate travel the most.

Published: March 28, 2016 3:04 PM

While travel and tourism is one of the largest and growing service sectors in our country, the economic uptick marks the escalation of corporate travel the most. Driven by amalgamation of various factors such as globalization of organizations, rising income levels, policy and regulatory support by the government authorities, etc. business travel has emerged as one of India’s fastest growing industries.

According to Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), India has been witnessing the highest growth rate in business travel across the globe. If the trend continues, it is quite possible that in the next 15 to 20 years, India may acquire the second place after China, thereby surpassing US in the process. Currently, business travel is approximately a $25 billion market in India which will grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5 per cent through 2019 to $45 billion. Also, the inbound MICE segment of India is growing at an annual rate of 15 to 20 per cent.

With an upsurge in the corporate travel market in our country, it is essential for the market players to keep up with the requirements of consumers through updated technology, availability of services and upbeat infrastructure. Platforms like Routofy are striving to give business travellers not just an altogether visionary & seamless booking, but also travel experience. Here is an outline of the trends which are likely to shape the rapidly evolving Indian business travel segment in the future:

Expense and Budget Management

It is expected that the hotel rates, airfares and ground transportation are likely to see moderate price hikes in the year 2016; in fact, the Union Budget 2016 has proclaimed that air fares are set to increase due to Krishi Kalyan cess & the hike in excise duty on aviation turbine fuel. Thus, a constant expense management for business travel becomes extremely crucial for organizations to keep a tab on the related outflow of funds in such situations. The time spent on planning travels, approvals & booking needs to be optimized as well to make the process as efficient as possible.

Trip Engineering

Corporate travel is an investment to grow an organization’s business further.  It often involves impromptu meetings and last-minute requirements, which are hard to organize, coordinate and book. As a result, companies, especially small and medium enterprises, are rapidly adopting corporate booking tools and incorporating ‘Trip Engineering’ to achieve the same. The purpose of the same is to take the requirements of the user into consideration and create a seamless & efficient booking experience within the constraints of availability, cost and time. The time has gone when showing tons of data to the users was a sign of technical superiority; it’s all about increasing the functionality and keeping things simple now.

Policy Compliances

For most organizations, travel and expense spending is the second largest expense besides payroll. Breach of policy results in unexpected travel expense and reimbursement issues later on. Multiple bookings from different vendors further create a lot of problems and complexities. As a result, ensuring the compliance of company policies associated with employee travel becomes essential and is an indicator of good governance. Efficient pre-booking authorization tools add an extra level of convenience for supervisors and managers in companies. Automated checks and approval tools allow them to approve, decline or request changes to various components of an employee’s itinerary prior to ticketing. It helps control costs, avoid increased airfares due to price hikes associated with large approval time and eliminate the occurrence of related add-on costs.

Mobile and Internet Technology

According to a study conducted by Singapore Tourism Board and travel technology firm Amadeus, Indian business travellers have displayed high tendencies to book their travel online.  Indians are believed to have a more ‘digital’ vision towards travel than any other Asian nation. With approximately 85 per cent Indian business travellers booking their flights online, it is becoming evident that people want to exercise their freedom to make their own bookings and modifications in the same via online portals.

Analytics

On the surface, corporate travel seems straightforward, but below the surface it is a lot more complex. And that’s where the need to track and analyze the experiences of business travellers arises. With detailed data & analytics, organizations can not only learn about demands and behaviour of the traveller, but is also able to identify the loopholes in en-route services, related risks, payment systems, expenses and more. A lot of time and monetary savings can be made by observing the travel patterns of employees & analyzing this data. It helps the organization to pick the right travel-planning platform, streamline the booking process and even provide personalized services.

Connectivity

Another aspect of business travel where the role of technology becomes very stark is the need for connectivity. These travellers need to be in constant touch with their team members as well as home. Whether it is keeping people abreast on the progress of their journey or touching base with their work, smart technology in communication and travel plays a huge role in successful business trips. Mobile itinerary-management tools help mitigate risk by enabling precise traveller tracking and communication.

With these trends swiftly catching on, business travel will soon transform into a much more ‘smart’ space.

By Ronak Gupta, Co-founder & CEO Routofy.

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