Vang Vieng, Lao PDR

Amadeus predicts five tech trends for business travel in SE Asia

‘Super apps’, voice-enabled bookings and 5G roll-out will have a significant impact on business travel in 2020, according to a new paper released by travel technology company Amadeus.

Despite the growth of technologies that make virtual meetings possible, business travel spend in the region is still predicted to double between 2020 to 2025, with the region forecast to eventually account for half of the world’s total spend.

‘Bleisure’ travel – where employees add leisure time and activities onto work trips – has also been rising in Asia, with a survey by Amadeus finding that Asian corporate travellers are twice as likely to book work trips that include weekends than their European counterparts.

Against this backdrop, Amadeus’ Future of Corporate Travel paper, written in conjunction with senior leaders from Musement, BorderPass and Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation, identifies five key trends that travel companies in the region need to be aware of as corporate travel continues to grow and evolve:

1. Voice is the next frontier for bookings
There’s a major shift happening between human and computer interaction, particularly with voice technology across Asia-Pacific. As travel companies continue to invest in voice technology, businesses will have quicker access to the traveller’s profile, real-time alerts and in-flight amenity checks within a single natural sentence. This means that travel consultants and travellers won’t have to go through multiple screens; they will soon be able to achieve the same goal much more quickly – using voice.

Nishank Gopalkrishnan, chief business officer, Musement, commented: “I personally think voice will be the differentiator moving forward. If you think of it, talking to one another is the most natural thing humans do. Typing, swiping and other forms of interaction are all just intermediate steps, as we are unable to efficiently talk to a machine. This will change, and companies that devise the most efficient way of selling high value and high engagement products via voice will lead in the future.”

2. The rise of ‘Super-apps’
Corporate travellers are juggling so many travel apps, including for their airlines, travel agencies and hotels. In the future this will move to a ‘one-app/ super-app’ concept, giving corporate travellers the ability to book, make changes, get an itinerary and claim expenses – all on one single app. It is already one of the top trends among big players in the mobile space.

Much like WeChat has done for years in China, several other companies in Asia like LINE, KakaoTalk, Grab, and Go-Jek are expanding to other verticals to add functionalities and content to their apps, from mobility options to food delivery, media, payments and travel, targeting more business travellers.

Moving forward, travellers will expect everything to be easily accessible to them through one, simple to use app. This is a commercial opportunity for travel companies, and businesses need to bear this in mind when reviewing the solutions that they make available to their employees.

3. Feeling the impact of 5G
Faster networks through 5G are now being deployed across Asia-Pacific and are enabling other technologies to take off, changing the way that travellers move around their own cities and travel to others. Thanks to the increased speed and amount of data, there will be more advanced connected devices – from smart homes to self-driving cars and smart cities – and increased personalisation through Artificial Intelligence (AI).

This greater connectivity will allow travel companies to provide a seamless travel experience in which a business traveller can go door-to-door from their home to a hotel with little hassle and a truly personalised service. The frictionless experience will continue at their hotel with 5G smart hotels – offering faster connection speeds for smartphones and connected devices. With 5G, the end traveller is going to be better connected than ever before. Businesses need to be ready for this and ensure they best equip their employees to take advantage of 5G hyper-connectivity.

Edgar Vega, commercial head of APAC, mobile, Amadeus, commented: “Business travel is no longer just about getting to and from home. It is a series of experiences that demand an intuitive, streamlined management – which is driven through mobile. I’m convinced that the 5G rollout will completely transform the corporate traveller’s mobile experience. For starters, access to unlimited data will allow for more informative and productive business trips while on the other side corporations will be able to provide better guidance for their corporate travellers in terms of access to hotel, transfer and destination services in virtual reality format.”

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