James Petts  / Flickr

A plane takes off at London City Airport. The year brought additional uncertainty, some surprises, and more evolution for corporate travel. James Petts / Flickr

Skift Take: Yet again, events around the world caused upheaval for business travelers in 2017. Uncertainty has become the norm, and corporate travel executives would be wise to plan for more of the unexpected.

— Hannah Sampson

Late last year, when we spoke to executives across the corporate travel industry about the year that was coming to an end, one theme that came up again and again was how much uncertainty the industry had to cope with.

At the time, we said: “Business travel rolled with a whole lot of punches in 2016. Buckle up for next year.”

That was good advice. Some of the previous year’s uncertainty was gone, but there were many new and unexpected developments in the U.S. and overseas, as well as lingering questions over earlier disruptions such as Brexit.

Our contributor Amy Merrick posed questions to several executives about corporate travel in 2017 and wrote about the highlights, surprises, and challenges they discussed.

Speaking of the end of 2017, this newsletter will take a break next week for the holidays. Business travel editor Andrew Sheivachman will return the first week of January for more of the corporate travel news you’ve come to rely on.

— Hannah Sampson, News Editor

Business of Buying

Corporate Travel Got Even More Complicated in 2017: Business travelers coped with a range of surprises, including disruptive natural disasters and sudden shifts in government policy. Expect more uncertainty.

Travel Management and Event Consolidation Is Edging Out Departmental Turf Wars: Convergence is trending among travel and event departments at big companies. Fueled by technology, it will only become more important to both sectors in the future if old-school thinking doesn’t get in the way.

Delta Air Lines Is Going After Future Business Travelers — While Still in College: Delta has a name for millennials — “Emerging High Value Customers” — and a strategy to turn them into the business class customers of tomorrow. It’s an interesting, multi-layered approach.

Safety + Security

Amtrak Accident Leads to Trump Call for Infrastructure Improvements: It’s a relief to see the president push for legislation that actually makes sense and that would benefit the travel industry. But if the U.S. tax bill passes this week, it will be more difficult to find the funding for such a massive infrastructure investment project.

Smart Luggage Makers Criticize New U.S. Airline Battery Guidelines: For road warriors, a suitcase that doubles as a power source might seem like a great fit. But it’s not so great if that bag is going to cause a holdup while traveling. Luggage makers need to ensure their products will meet new guidelines if they want to see widespread adoption.

Disruption + Innovation

Brands Must Rethink Engagement With the New Digitally Connected Traveler:
Widespread digital connectivity has created a generation of travelers who are more impatient, demanding, and savvy than ever before — and that applies extra to business travelers. Travel brands must adapt to meet those needs.

Apple Maps Adds Airport Terminal Guide for Travelers: Built-in maps of airport terminals are certainly useful for iPhone users. But this new feature has a long way to go in terms of airports included and the granularity of information available, before it becomes a mainstay for frequent travelers.

Airbnb Is Getting a $200 Million Boost to Build Its Hotel-Like Apartment Business: As homesharing gets big backers — and a better relationship with landlords — will corporate travel consider it more of a mainstream option?


Skift Business Travel Editor Andrew Sheivachman [as@skift.com] curates the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

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