Setting sights on 2023
From advances in online booking technology and rush of RFP activity, to the gradual removal of Covid-19 travel restrictions and the speedy return of business travel and face-to-face events, 2022 was big. This year is expected to be just as fast paced.
What does this mean for corporate travel? We sat down with some of our leaders here in Australia to find out the lessons they learned in 2022 that will benefit us in 2023.
Keep reading to hear their thoughts, and from everyone at FCM, Happy New Year!
The biggest lesson for the travel industry in 2022 that will benefit us in 2023?
Credit on hold utilisation. In the past, credits on hold were managed by Travel Managers manually. But now easier and more efficient ways to view credits at the time of booking, alerts for travellers on when to use credits via online booking tools and more automation will continue to streamline this area for our customers and the industry.
A tip for smoother business travel for clients?
Being prepared and flexible for change and disruptions, i.e. planning your business trip in advance where possible, booking early to access the best available rates and to get the routes and seats you want. Being flexible and open with travel dates and times will also help as the industry continues to readjust.
What’s your travel resolution for 2023?
To take better advantage of special airline and hotel offers for my personal travel. This year I plan to firm up my holiday plans early, keep an eye out for industry deals and book in advance to secure amazing prices.
What has the sales environment been like in 2022 and do you anticipate much change next year?
Very buoyant with a lot of interest and movement from prospective customers. We anticipate a slowdown (still activity but not as hectic as 2022) in 2023 as the industry gets back to more normality with staffing levels and online uptake. There’s also been a lot of movement in the buyer space this past year, which has prompted RFP activity that may continue into 2023 as the war for talent continues to rage.
Your advice for companies going to RFP for their travel programs next year?
Be sure to have all your internal stakeholders on board and have a clear understanding of what results you wish to gain from the process.
What’s your travel resolution for 2023?
To use my passport again!
How kind is 2023 going to be for corporate travel programs?
Clients are now more than ever engaging the travel community for decisions that enable frictionless travel. It's so much more difficult to travel, and policy decisions are factoring this in. We are seeing customers change their travel policies to accommodate shift to support smoother travel while still balancing costs. For example, we’re seeing clients change from economy class to premium air travel, bookings at better hotels and trips that are longer etc.
It will be a kinder environment as it will be easier. Supply will catch up with demand at some point and the industry will recover further, so services like baggage handlers, security, house-keeping will increase, further elevating the current experience.
It will also be kinder to the planet, most clients aren’t taking CSR/ESG seriously and this will play out a lot more next year. People want to travel with purpose and the planet in mind.
Your tip for businesses looking to improve traveller satisfaction?
Engagement is key. Relevant and a factual understanding of the user experience is key. That encompasses the entire process from trip approvals, to planning (the OBT experience), on-trip, policy, post trip and expenses. Customers must look at the whole picture now more than ever (refer to point 1 about frictionless and how hard it is these days). Corporate travel must be easy, it must be safe, it must be purposeful - considering travellers don’t want to be away from families, and it must be less harmful to the planet.
What’s your personal New Year’s resolution?
I don't really do resolutions but one goal we have agreed to as a family, is to travel more, one major holiday per year and one less major!!!
Japan, here we come!
What do you think will be the top 3 trends to impact client travel programs in 2023?
- Managing travel costs through demand management
- Strategic travel supply partnerships will be critical. Travel gained its momentum in 2022 and 2023 will see disruption due to continued supply issues and economic conditions. Travel suppliers who invested will be the trusted partner of the traveller in 2023.
- International travel continues to boom amongst constrained supply. Leisure travellers used 2022 to test the water after many cancellations and postponements during 2020 and 2021. The confidence to travel internationally with no interruption, is increasing buyer interest and growing the demand, quite possible that half the Australian population could be overseas during the southern hemisphere summers.
The most interesting travel insight you learned in 2022 that you’ll carry into 2023?
Companies that restarted their travel programs early in the piece reaped the rewards of some very good travel prices and benefited from reinvigorating their businesses quickly (employee culture and clients). And for those that were quick enough, secured very competitive travel supply contracts.
Favourite food, drink and music to unwind to when holidays kick in?
- Broccoli pasta my husband cooks
- Negroni on the front porch at sunset
- Ministry of Sound
Name 3 of the hottest event spaces now available for companies to host functions in.
Allianz Stadium - reopened in Aug 2022. This venue is close to Sydney’s CBD and provides the opportunity to think outside the box to create a stadium experience for LIVE events on a larger scale with outstanding production and lighting facilities. Think big!
Bondi Pavillion – this is a venue with broad appeal, has a rich history, cultural vibrance, it’s almost beachfront and looks amazing after an eye-catching refurb.
Porterhouse Hotel Sydney by M Gallery – This is a unique boutique luxury hotel that thoughtfully brings together the rich history of the building with a design-led new build. It boasts 7 intimate and interesting meeting spaces, some including fireplaces and all rich with character.
Most important thing to remember for businesses planning a major event in 2023?
- Start with asking ‘why’? This informs your overall event strategy & planning
- Advance plan due to availability constraints, we recommend a minimum of 6 months for the planning phase
- Develop a contingency plan to avoid postponement or cancellations
- Integrate technology to expand reach and accessibility
- Try and factor in sustainability, wellness and purpose into the event experience for guests
- Data security and duty of care is a must throughout the delegate experience.