SME Business Travel - Top Trends for 2024

As the corporate travel industry continues to transform significantly, we’re taking a look forward at 5 trends that we see on the radar for 2024.

lady pulling suitcase through airport

6min read

Published 28 December 2023


As the corporate travel industry continues to transform significantly, we’re taking a look forward at 5 trends that we see on the radar for 2024.

It’s a brand-new year. Are you feeling inspired? Do you have an exciting new plan you’re just dying to put into action for your business?

Maybe you read a new business book over the holidays that set you on a new course. Maybe you simply stared at the ocean at dawn and channelled a little divine intervention, or maybe you worked right through the break, eking out ideas for the new year in between serving customers. Regardless of how you did it, most of us start the year with a healthy dose of fresh optimism.

Staying on top of trends is an essential part of this process, especially when it comes to business travel.

The industry continues to transform significantly post COVID, driven by sizeable shifts in traveller behaviour and business needs. In this article, we’re taking a look forward at 5 trends that we see on the radar for 2024.

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1. Employee well-being

The way we work and travel changed completely a few years ago, and a primary example is how employee well-being has become a top priority. Travellers – who now are enjoying a more comfortable work / life balance thanks to the blended model of working from home and the office – expect their employers to make travel less onerous, and more enjoyable.

Making a resolution to prioritise the health and safety of your employees is smart, as it not only fosters a positive work culture but also contributes to increased productivity. Traveller well-being can take many forms, for example:

· Comfort: recognising personal preferences when it comes to airlines and hotels, such as extra legroom or a gym

· Convenience: more conducive flight times, meeting times and itineraries

· Rewards: maximising the benefits from rewards programs

· Recovery: post trip down time to recover from the journey, or mid trip time off

· Travel insurance: ensuring travellers are comprehensively covered

· Flexible travel policies: being prepared to go outside the rules when appropriate

2. Sustainable travel practices

Society expects businesses to behave with a social conscience, and this long-term trend will only keep growing. The travel industry is firmly in the spotlight, and expectations of continuous improvement are tangible, so committing to sustainable travel practices makes a lot of sense. Travellers themselves want their travel to be sustainable, with some even prepared to reject a trip if it didn’t meet their sustainability expectations.

Ideas on how to improve in this area could involve opting for hotels with a program of eco-friendly initiatives; compensating for your carbon emissions through our sustainability partner, Trees4Travel; or simply travelling more lightly by rejecting single use plastics or using less water. For more ideas, learn about the 6R’s of Sustainable Travel and put them into practice where possible.

3. Blended travel – bleisure goes big

We’ve all heard of Bleisure, but 2024 will see the idea of blending business and leisure travel continue to expand. Travellers are looking to maximise the enjoyment of their work trips by adding on leisure activities before, during, or after their trips. This could mean days off to explore a hidden beach, or simply break in the middle of the day to wander around a museum. You might consider paying for a premium experience to make the traveller’s trip more memorable or allowing for their partner of family to join them.

Additionally, another aspect of blended travel is taking rise: with more employees working further and further away from the office, ‘super commuting’ has become a trend, where employees make longer but less frequent journeys into work. It’s a bit like bleisure in reverse!

Many taking selfie in front of london bridge
Many taking selfie in front of london bridge
Many taking selfie in front of london bridge

4. Personalisation

Business travel is no longer one size fits all. With individual preferences and needs varying widely, personalisation allows SMEs to boost employee satisfaction and productivity by tailoring travel experiences to the specific requirements of their employees. This goes beyond a trend; it's a strategic necessity. Here’s a few ideas on how to personalise your travel:

• Flexible travel policies: provide employees with flexible travel policies that accommodate individual preferences within reasonable bounds. This could include preferred airlines, accommodation and transportation.

• Personalised travel profiles: create individualised travel profiles for employees, storing information on their preferences such as seat selections, dietary restrictions and hotel choices.

• Communication and feedback: establish open channels of communication to understand employees' preferences and gather feedback on their travel experiences.

• 24/7 support: ensure travellers have always-on support and access to assistance when they’re on the road.

• Recognition and rewards: acknowledge and reward employees for their commitment to business travel. Implement recognition programs that celebrate frequent travellers, provide incentives for loyalty, or offer personalised rewards based on individual preferences.

• Expense management flexibility: offer flexibility in expense management to cater to individual needs.

5. The human touch

As tech rises, so too does the desire for human connections and relationships. It’s something we’re hearing more and more often, and it’s set to stick as a trend in 2024. Many people prefer to talk to a human rather than a bot or chat, and there’s good reason!

At Flight Centre Business Travel, corporate travel is personal. We pride ourselves on our people-first, hyper-personal service, because we think it’s the best way to get the results you need and the very best travel program possible.

Find out how Flight Centre Business Travel can help streamline your business’ end-to-end travel program and make your travel for work easy.

Get in touch or call us on 1300 797 826 today.

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