Industry Update
External Article15 December 2020

Business Travelers Want to See Major Changes From Airlines

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As the decimated air travel industry looks to rebuild operations in 2021, one thing is certain: airlines will be competing to win back the all-too-valuable business traveler.

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Before the coronavirus outbreak, business travel accounted for 60 to 70 percent of airlines' fare sales, according to estimates from trade group Airlines for America. Global spending on business travel was projected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2022, according to pre-pandemic numbers from the Global Business Travel Association.

"Nobody wants to lose this coveted business traveler, and they're going to do what it takes to address all these future concerns," says Meagen Eisenberg, chief marketing officer at TripActions, a corporate travel management platform.

Here are five ways experts see the business traveler's flight experience changing next year.

Airlines might add fare classes with different perks

First, business travelers will likely see more perks from airlines—either included with their fares or sold together at a discount.

"Bundles, which is what the airlines are calling this package they put together where you're purchasing a seat and maybe additional baggage, Wi-Fi, or a meal ahead of time, are a growing trend in the industry as airlines look to differentiate their product," says Nina Herold, the chief product and operations officer at TripActions. "So you're not just buying a seat on any old airplane, you're buying an experience with them as a provider."

This trend, which was underway pre-COVID but is becoming more prevalent, according to Herold, could also pave the way for more segmented fare classes for the same seats—both in business class and in coach—similar to the way basic economy and main cabin tickets are sold.

"And that actually comes with potential amenities associated with those more business-friendly fares," says Evan Konwiser, executive vice president of product and strategy at AmEx Global Business Travel. "You might also get lounge passes or you may get other perks, Wi-Fi, that will be more attractive to the business traveler from a value standpoint, which will be great." Also potentially included in the bundle? More flexible ticket changes and even COVID-19 tests upon departure and arrival.

Read the full article at cntraveler.com

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