Despite higher airfares and room rates, a Morgan Stanley survey of 100 global corporate travel managers found that many respondents believe their company’s travel spending has already returned to pre-pandemic levels and will continue to rise. One of the most striking findings is that smaller companies are leading the demand for business travel. More than two-thirds (68%) of companies with annual revenues of less than $1 billion expect their travel budgets to increase over the next year, while only 41% of companies with annual revenues of more than $16 billion expected an increase.
But as we all know, travelling for business in 2022 wasn’t easy. Most airports in Europe and the US were in chaos during the spring and summer. A recent Skift article says that nervousness (and corporate liability) about catching Covid turned to nonchalance, but was replaced by worry about being stuck at the airport for hours or even days.
The demand for flexibility to meet the growing needs of smaller businesses, as well as agility and adaptation to rapidly changing travel environments, seems to have accelerated the development of fast and flexible business travel tools. And as Business Travel News Europe puts it “Disruptive upstarts from the technology sector pumped up with cheap venture capital money are beginning to park their tanks on the legacy TMC’s lawns and they do not like it”
Companies founded in the last ten years, that received significant funding and made great strides include Travelperk, which promises response times of 20 seconds on the phone with a real human being, and products such as FlexiPerk, which allows very flexible cancellations of flights, hotels, cars or trains in any case.
TripActions provides cloud travel and payments technology paired with a world-class global travel agency service to protect employees and control costs. ITILite, which was founded in 2017 and raised $17 million, provides travel management services and a marketplace with curated integrations and offerings.
Spotnana, which raised $75 million last year, describes its solution as a “travel-as-a-service” platform and a “single cloud-based technology stack” that can be used by businesses, travel management companies, suppliers and technology providers. WorkTrips, which recently raised $23 million, is an AI-powered travel management tool that optimises costs, automates processes and provides care during business trips.
Other companies in this space that have received funding include Tripbam, an online hotel price shopping and review service for travel managers, and Pleo, a business spend platform that has received $428 million to date. Troop Travel has an interesting concept to simplify meeting planning.
There are still many exciting developments to come in this area, as we see some of the classic problems associated with business travel being addressed more quickly by some of the new entrants.