The nature of business travel is constantly changing. From how employees order their plane tickets, make hotel reservations, stay connected and, how they get from place to place. Here are this year’s biggest corporate travel trends.
1. Reliance on Mobile Devices When Traveling
You could easily remove the ‘when traveling’ part of that statement and it would still be true. As a business traveler, what’s the one thing you couldn’t survive without when you’re on a trip? More than 10,000 travelers from 19 different countries throughout the world were questioned and they all gave the same response. Mobile phones finished way ahead of other travel essentials such as a toothbrush, deodorants and driver’s license. One of the outcomes is that business people are increasingly less disconnected from the office, with people checking in constantly through messaging apps or email. When traveling, mobile devices become even more important for checking in with the office, keeping up with flight schedules, and just staying in touch in general.
With 85% of international travelers carrying some kind of mobile device with them while traveling (Frederic Gonzalo, 2016) it’s really no surprise that guests who travel with devices no longer see Wi-Fi as a perk, but as a must-have when they check in at a hotel. Wi-Fi is now deemed to be a priority and is seen as more important than a hotel’s location, parking, and even complimentary breakfast! Guests expect it to be free – in fact 96% of business travelers think that WiFi should be free and one-third of them would consider a lack of it to be a deal-breaker; 27% of travelers would refuse to stay somewhere without free Wi-Fi!
Studies confirm the desire for travelers to retain greater control of their stay through mobile. 60% of consumers are more likely to choose a smartphone-enabled hotel (Software Advice) and want to use their mobile devices to handle routine functions. A 2015 survey by The Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University found that guests generally wanted greater automation of a wide variety of procedures and interactions, such as checking in and out of the hotel, receiving a notification on their device when their room is ready, requesting hotel amenities, and ordering room service. Guests are also interested in looking at more information about their hotels, including upgrading a room before checking in, requesting reservations for on- and off-site restaurants, or having the valet retrieve the car.
Also, there are more business-centric apps available, which make keeping up with tasks easier. VAT technology can certainly be a part of global VAT compliance. For example, business trip expenses can become very confusing for business travelers, and if they have a way to track the necessary information for each purchase, then these apps can simplify a lot of post-trip organization issues. Find a list of top 22 apps for business travelers here.
3. The Sharing Economy
It used to be that when business people arrived at their destination, they would take their own taxi to their hotel, followed by another taxi or registered car service to where they needed to go. The sharing economy is drastically changing this.
In the GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ Global Report – January 2017, The Global Business Travel Association, found that the use of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft had increased by 21%, and many said they would continue to use ride-sharing services in the future. The use of Airbnb and home-sharing services also increased by 20%.
However, not all employers’ policies are keeping up with the times. Many employers are still working out the kinks in their companies’ travel policies to accommodate for these updated methods of business travel and lodging and to determine if recovery of VAT is possible from the use of these services as opposed to the more standard hotel and taxi services. It is taking a lot of changes-both on an organizational and financial level-to clearly dictate whether these services can or cannot be used by business travelers. Airbnb recommends that the property includes the tax in the price of the reservation, but some may require the tax to be paid directly upon check-in. Find out more about VAT collection at Airbnb here.
4. Bleisure Trips
Mixing business with pleasure was practically unthinkable in the early days of my career. Today, it’s almost expected. Business people, especially younger business people, are now finding business trips a great excuse to take a couple days and relax as well. Trips like these are becoming known as ‘bleisure’ trips, combining business and leisure and it is booming! What starts out as a 3-day work trip turns into a 6-day trip with the first three devoted to business and the second three devoted to vacation.The hotel industry is taking note of this change and is providing more activities and tours for visiting employees looking for a story to take home. Part of this career travel lifestyle includes bringing loved ones and friends along for the ride.
According to a 2014 report by Bridgestreet Global Hospitality, 82% of business travelers use free time to explore the city they are visiting, and 96% said having the leisure time to explore the city would give them a chance to gain better cultural knowledge about their destination. This fact could make bleisure trips much more relevant, as cultural knowledge is a key factor in building successful business relationships. Don’t save your work for last though, it is best to schedule your working hours at the beginning of a bleisure trip.
As with sharing services, many companies are still developing policies for employees regarding bleisure travel and working with their employees to learn when to separate the business expenses from the personal expenses. This is a learning curve, but companies that learn to embrace these trends will also be ready to embrace a younger workforce that is more inclined to travel if they are also able to take some time for themselves on the same trip.
5. Increased Travel to the East
With many Western countries scrambling for economic stability, companies are beginning to look East for new business opportunities in the long run. It can take a long time to cultivate relationships and adjust to business customs in countries like China and India, but with their populations and determination to improve their economic standing, this travel could pay off in the long run for many companies.
However, many companies are still developing travel policies for these countries, as their VAT policies and other tax regulations are still only just developing. Companies willing to attempt business ventures will see a lot of risk, but it could also lead to bigger rewards.
6. International Corporate Spending and Recovery of VAT
As companies are taking a more multi-national approach to their endeavors, so do their business transactions. Conventions are also becoming more common in many industries, meaning more event travel will be happening. That means more businesses are likely to see more company-based or intra-company transactions where recovery of VAT is possible. While it is helpful for employees to be familiar with the rules for recovery of VAT, it is impossible for them to be well-versed in all the intricacies of this very complicated issue.
This is where technology for VAT recovery comes into play. A strong central system that can manage all the data related to recovery of VAT is essential for all companies that handle a lot of transactions, including travel expenses. VATBox has a wide depth of knowledge regarding the many different policies regarding business VAT reclaim. If your company deals with a large number of VAT-related transactions, the addition of VATBox could simplify a lot of these processes and make the life of your CFO a lot easier in the long run.
If you’d like to learn more about the VAT process, VATBox can help. VATBox, an automated, enterprise-wide, cloud-based VAT recovery solution, has successfully streamlined the global VAT recovery process, providing businesses with unrivaled visibility, compliance, and data integrity, and ultimately boosting its bottom line. VATBox can help ensure that your company is always in compliance with the latest VAT laws and always has access to the most current VAT-related information. Request a free demo here.