Microsoft’s recent Corporate Travel Innovation Summit was a resounding success, and the summary of the event is nothing less than astounding. Microsoft managed to cut straight to the heart of corporate travel issues and offer valuable insights on all sides of the issue. Here are five key takeaways from their Travel Innovation Manifesto that really stood out:
Quality of Travel Really Matters
One of the very first issues that were brought up is the balancing of quality, comfortable travel with cost. Interestingly, companies who are willing to spring for the added conveniences and luxuries actually see a higher return on their corporate travel dollars. This return comes in the form of higher productivity up front because your employees are more at ease while they are on the road, but it also pays off in the long run with customer retention and even positive recruiting points.
There is Room for Improvement
A particularly frustrating aspect of corporate travel has always been the behind-the-scenes deals that have gone on between travel agencies, hotel chains, and other suppliers. Oftentimes these deals come at the expense of the corporation that is requesting travel arrangements, and it can be difficult to determine who is responsible. By automating and digitizing some of these services through Microsoft’s machine learning systems, these conflicts of interest can be mostly eliminated.
Travel Agencies Aren’t Going Anywhere
Even as we become more comfortable with booking travel through apps, these mobile tools are not sufficient when there has been a disruption to our plans. Travel agencies remain the best way to save a travel experience when something goes wrong. They are able to communicate clearly amid the chaos, and can provide faster solutions than trying to rebook a flight through an app or find a lost hotel reservation. Many corporations still have strong connections to travel agencies for this very reason.
Even Corporate Travel is a Social Experience These Days
Microsoft announced a new software development that aggregates data from corporate travelers, allowing them to rate their experience at a destination, leave comments and make recommendations. From there, the software creates a unique traveler profile that helps agencies or travel apps choose better hotels for that individual. This software can also be used to network between corporate travelers as they arrive at each destination. This corporate travel specific medium is an interesting kind of social network that has limitless potential for learning how to do corporate travel better.
Corporate Travel is Going Smart
There seems to be a general consensus that most corporations are not ready to bring blockchain systems into their corporate travel arrangements just yet. However, many of these corporations conceded that they do like the concept of smart contracts that would allow seamless payment transferring without the hefty credit card fees. The integration of smart contracts is still in its earliest phases but it will ideally help companies save money year after year.
These are just a few of the takeaways from Microsoft’s Corporate Travel Innovation Manifesto. There is tons of room in this industry for innovation to take place and for all parties to benefit. Many of these ideas are already in their early implementation phases and will continue to bloom in the coming year.
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