As the year draws to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect on our collective successes from the past year and look at where we’re headed in 2020. I’m anticipating the usual frenzy of ‘new year, new me’ in early January, followed by widespread panic dieting due to Christmas overindulgence…

Waistline concerns aside, my thoughts turn to business travel and the trends that will influence our buying behaviours in 2020 and beyond. There are so many external factors – recent political events, social activism, the economy, changes to our lifestyle, and more – which play an unequivocal role in the way we procure, manage and experience travel.

We’ve narrowed down this extensive list to a few of the key contenders which we envisage will curate the future of our business travel landscape.

Personalised travel programmes

The promise of NDC (New Distribution Capability) is set to transform the booking experience, with access to rich content and an overhaul of online travel booking as we know it. With greater visibility of cost and available travel extras, bookers will be more empowered than ever before, designing travel itineraries to suit their preferences (all within policy, of course!)

Traveller wellbeing

There’s been a recent cultural shift in our modern workplaces; down with the antiquated hierarchy and up with the “my door is always open” approach. Our awareness of wellbeing can be seen in travel too, with greater impetus on traveller safety and duty of care procedures. There’s a fine balance between cost-savings and traveller wellbeing though, a balance which businesses should strive to achieve. Is it possible, this elusive balance? Absolutely. Find out how in our Hearts and Minds manifesto.

Flexible travel policies

Travel policies – they’re all too often neglected. Picture the scene: you’ve arrived at your new job, you’re getting to know everyone, you have a quick once over of the travel policy. But a few months have gone by and it’s a distant memory – what was that thing about travel spend again? Travel policies might feel like the “fun police”, but implementing a flexible travel policy, which accommodates budget and allows for personal preferences, provides an easy working solution. Offering a degree of choice enforces a culture of trust and transparency between employer and employee – and reduces the risk of out of policy bookings.

Increase in mobile bookings – the rise of 5G

Lagging internet connections, that infuriating buffering wheel as you wait impatiently for your video content to load – soon to be a thing of the past? (I hope so). Several mobile providers have already started to roll-out 5G across their networks, with plans to complete implementation by 2022. With the promise of being up to 100 times faster than 4G, this will revolutionise the speed and volume of online travel bookings. In an always-on, on-the-move society, this is music to our ears. At Clarity, we have our nifty mobile app, Go2Mobile, which enables all of your booking information to be stored and viewed in one central location.

Smart check-in

We’ve already seen how biometric technology is changing our airport experience – but what about hotels? It’s been a long day of travelling, you’ve been to your client meeting and now it’s time to check into your hotel – but that means joining another queue. It’s likely that, in the not so distant future, facial recognition technology will be our new means of check-in. What’s more, as hotels begin to adopt smart technology, we’ll be able to control our entertainment preferences, room temperature and even order room service from our smartphones.

2020 is poised to be an exciting year for business travel. As AI and machine-learning technologies mature, we will undoubtedly see major changes in the way we book travel, making processes simpler and content more personalised. Combining new technology with our changing attitudes and focus on wellbeing will ultimately lead to a better user-experience across all of our business travel needs.