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3 Business Travel Trends to Watch in 2019

By Mike Volpe, published on Dec 14, 2018
3 Business Travel Trends to Watch in 2019

(Note: You can see Lola.com CEO Mike Volpe share these predictions on a Cheddar TV video clip here.)

There is no denying that business life is changing. More people are working remotely, distributed teams are becoming the norm, and Americans are changing careers more than ever.

But one evolving aspect of the business landscape is much less discussed: corporate travel. Crisscrossing the globe for business purposes is nothing new, but a slew of changes in 2019 — some cultural, some technological — are making companies and workers rethink how they approach corporate travel.

Related: Want to see exclusive stats about how much time and money companies are spending on travel? Check out our FREE report: The Cost of Doing Business Travel

These changes are coming fast. And they’re much deeper and more comprehensive than just improved wifi on flights and the ease of Ubering from airport to meeting. Here are three that are especially worth keeping an eye on, whether you’re a frequent flier, corporate travel manager or anything in between.

Business or pleasure? Both.

Historically, business travel has felt like a nuisance. Road warriors are (usually) happy to suck it up, but it often means time away from family, long waits at crowded airports, and plenty of catchup upon their return.

But as workforces fill up with millennial and Gen Z workers, business travel expectations and preferences are changing. One example is the rise of business trips that extend (or blend) into pleasure trips. This concept has been (somewhat unfortunately) dubbed ‘bleisure’ travel, and it’s definitely a trend worth watching.

Whether this is a consequence of a younger workforce, or simply a reflection of the blurring lines between work and life, there’s no denying that in 2019 employers should pay attention to the desire for tacking a personal trip onto a business one. The idea that business travel can be viewed as a perk, not a drag, has the potential to improve employee happiness and even productivity, and it doesn’t have to add any overhead to the employer, but it is something that many companies will (or should) start officially incorporating into their travel policies. (In Lola, for example, we make it simple to book personal travel in the same way you book business travel.)

But it’s not just trip extensions that are changing how many people view business travel. There’s an equally important travel trend that’s affecting the trips themselves.

Mi casa es tu hotel

There’s no denying that Airbnb has changed the way people travel. Cost savings, more local flavor and a more personalized experience are just a few of the reasons leisure travelers are opting to rent a home rather than a hotel room. And why shouldn’t these same preferences extend to business travel?

In fact they do. According to Forbes, the popularity of Airbnb for business travel has skyrocketed, and in 2019 it’s still climbing. Airbnbs often offer more flexibility than hotels — think longer check-in windows and the ability to house an entire team — and the company is embracing this mentality in its marketing and product feature set.

Ironically, just as many business travelers are spending fewer nights in anonymous, identical hotel rooms, a growing number are actually looking for ways to spend more days in hotel rooms.

A good day’s sleep

If you’re a frequent business traveler, this experience probably resonates with you. You land in an unfamiliar city a few hours before an important meeting. You head to your hotel to freshen up and/or prepare for the meeting.

One problem: the hotel won’t let you check in before 3pm, exactly when your meeting starts. Or even worse: it’s a one-day trip and you don’t have a hotel room at all.

This growing need has led to a new business travel trend that I expect to blossom in 2019: the need for day-rate business hotels. These off-hour options provide weary travelers a place to take a quick nap, shower or catch up on emails without having to wait to check in or splurge for an unused night.

Combined, all of these trends reflect one thing: today’s business travelers need more flexibility, personalization and authenticity when they travel. Hitting the road is a necessary part of many people’s jobs, but it doesn’t have to be a painful one.

About the Author: Mike Volpe
Mike (aka “the best marketer in Boston”) is the CEO of Lola.com and a well respected and active member of the entrepreneurial community as a member of the board of directors of Validity, and as an advisor or investor in more than 30 startups. You can read more about Mike at MikeVolpe.com.