Updated 17 February 2021
A lot happened over a short span of time in 2020. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the stringent measures implemented and the restrictions imposed on peoples' movement has had a significant impact on the travel and hospitality industry. As people were forced to stay in and companies forced to halt operations worldwide, their attitude towards consuming travel also changed.
Understanding consumer buying behaviour and trends is crucial because ultimately, they help businesses take better decisions about what they are offering to their travellers, and on a macro level, these insights help markets evolve. So once the lockdown ends and the situation starts to ease, what impact will the pandemic have on organisations’ travel management programmes and the way they consume travel services? Here is a look at how the buying behaviour of organisations is likely to change...
The major factors that influence an organisation's decision when opting for business travel services through a TMC are:
- Cost and savings
- Duty of care
- Digital expertise
- Risk management
- Global network
As the socio-economic conditions change post-pandemic, some factors will become more important than others. Safety, crisis management and duty of care will precede cost and savings, and risk management will demand greater stakeholder attention. Organisations will ultimately want a safer and secure travel experience for their people.
There is no denying that travelling will be different too, at minimum for the medium-term. Governments and airlines require more documentation such as vaccine certificates and there are more rules to think about than normal.
Looking ahead, the significance of travel technology will only continue to increase. Companies will focus on ensuring direct interaction between travellers and technology, with travel tech providing a safer, easy and more enjoyable experience for business travel. Similarly, artificial intelligence will assist the travel industry in delivering excellent service and building relationships with customers, for example, through better personalisation and reducing response time with online booking tools.
In addition, the focus on having a robust travel risk strategy incorporated into organisations' overall risk management will increase, which will encompass crisis management and duty of care. A TMC with established relationships with medical companies and risk services will offer more safety in times of need, so a well-managed travel programme will go hand-in-hand with organisations' business continuity plans.
The pandemic has changed the rules of the game, and especially so for the travel and hospitality industry. Buying behaviour for customers will be dominated by wellbeing of travellers, followed by technology and experience and ultimately value. A TMC partner which incorporates these will be able to not only deliver a superior travel management experience but will also help strengthen overall performance of the organisation.