Perspective: Business travel in the sharing economy

Written by 
Perspective: Business travel in the sharing economy

Our guest blogger works in the fast-paced, ever-changing technology sector. Here she explains how the utilisation of several key digital services have transformed the business travel experience.

WORKING for one of the world’s best known technology brands, and a regular international traveller, it is interesting to note how significantly the new disruptive tech businesses have encroached into the traditional travel sector. Ostensibly aimed at bringing new efficiencies to the travel industry’s established components, from taxi cabs to lodging, these ‘arriviste’ firms tout meaningful savings for users, with the result that many businesses today – both new and old - are taking regular advantage of these on-demand services, allowing their staff more flexibility as to their business travel arrangements in the process.

The benefits for ‘millennial’ [and female] business travellers like me of these on-demand services such as taxicab apps are substantial. Landing in an airport where no one speaks my language, for instance. Or finding myself as a lone female miles from my accommodation, having concluded a networking meal in the trendiest hotspot that Google could identify. These situations are no longer an issue with all the slick apps at my disposal. With two taps of my phone, I can have hailed a cab, with payment already taken care of, and with the potentially awkward ‘explanation of address’ sorted – regardless of the languages mastered by either me or the driver. Not only this, but I have the reassurance of having the driver’s ‘rating’ provided to me before I choose to accept the lift, and an electronic record of each journey I undertake is stored – providing a sense of security which is particularly valuable when travelling alone as a single woman in ‘uncharted’ territories.

Navigating language barriers and overcoming lack of any local knowledge is a massive benefit of these technologies, but another key benefit is the value for money quality often delivered. Depending on the locality, taxicabs can be significantly cheaper for the same precise service, whilst for accommodation it’s possible to enjoy far greater flexibility in terms of price paid versus service enjoyed. Many of these ‘new’ services allow those who are willing to share living space to realise significant savings on their bookings. Renting a room, or a bed, can enable travellers like me to stay in the heart of a city for a steal, usually with great local eating or entertainment recommendations thrown in to boot. And at the higher end of the scale, new accommodation services have memorably facilitated my access to one-off unique properties, from Manhattan penthouse apartments to a tree house in Los Angeles. Plus, towards the more frivolous end of the app spectrum, I can also ensure that my favourite tunes form an appropriate soundtrack to my trip mission using just one of the many features available at my fingertips.

Yes, of course there are pay-offs. The very morality of the so-called ‘sharing economy’ brands is under constant challenge; in many cases they are able to make and pass on savings because their very business model circumvents regulation applicable to the established players. And sometimes you just need the reliability of a well-known established hotel chain, complete with the fluffy dressing gown and comfy slippers waiting at your bedside.

Business travel is so rarely the glamorous endeavour it appears; but smart utilisation of these on-demand services is helping millennial travellers maximise those stolen few minutes when working away from home.

So as an avid user of these services, I am interested to see how these disruptive technologies fare in the longer term. At the very least, it appears that their fresh perspective on service, immediacy and quality has already made a lasting impact on the global business travel industry in its entirety.


Perspective: Guest blog