Airlines Cash In as Flexible Work Changes Travel Patterns
Dennis J. Blasko
The past five years have seen a dramatic transformation of how many business travel organizations plan their business travel. New technology has enabled companies to have greater flexibility in how they select their employees and how they manage their travel programs. This has resulted in larger and more extensive programs of variable work hours to accommodate both business and personal schedules.
The number of people traveling on business has grown to 17.6 billion worldwide, from 16.9 billion in 2007, according to the TravelerRatings/Business Travel Coalition estimates.
Business travel organizations and their employees have embraced this flexible work model as a way to work less and save on costs.
“Since 2007, travel budgets have grown and business travel has continued to expand,” said Jim Nesemann, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Travelport, the company that operates the world’s largest marketplace site for business travel. “This has resulted in a growth in employee program flexibility, which has resulted in an increase in the number of organizations having programs that can be used to replace the traditional travel management program.”
A business traveler’s needs are not limited to just flying to business. They can use the programs of their company or even the flexibility of their own schedules to take vacation or a sabbatical or any other travel that allows them to spend more time with family or friends.
And many employers are using flexible plans in combination with an outbound flight program, according to Mark Rosenstiel, president, CEO and founder of the Rosenstiel Group and publisher of the travel industry magazine TravelerRatings,
“Many organizations are starting to use a combination of their core outbound program with this new flexibility,” Rosenstiel said.
The benefits range from reduced costs to increased productivity. “One of the biggest benefits is increased employee morale and productivity,” Rosenstiel said. “That’s the benefit that most people hear most about. The employees are happier because they can concentrate on their work and not also have to be taking care of their personal lives.”
One of the more recent changes to this shift in travel strategies is the concept of a “travel business school” or “tours by the school.” These programs have grown in popularity, Rosenstiel