What's next for 2017?
2017 is already over two months in, and we’ve already seen some clear patterns and indicators about what the rest of the year is likely to hold – for Orbit, for the industry, and for our business travelling clients.
Collectively, Orbit’s Managing Directors (the business owners) have over 100 years experience in the travel industry - experience that feeds into the Orbit brand and the direction of the business to benefit our clients from around the country.
So we’ve taken on-board their views on what they think the rest of 2017 holds for the business travel market - and what Orbit is doing to address it.
The year of demand
If you’ve travelled domestically over the last few months, especially to the main regions, you have probably had challenges booking accommodation and rental cars. This is a pattern we expect to see continue throughout the year. As an example, Auckland Airport’s recent interim results show that the company is spending more than $1m a day on infrastructure to meet demand of additional airport traffic. Statistics NZ data also shows international visitors arrivals into NZ are increasing – for the second consecutive month.
The important takeaway here is that your business travel provider needs to have the relationships and the resources to manage this demand. “Because demand is higher, rates are being pushed higher when demand exceeds supply,” says Orbit Auckland’s Managing Director Brendan Drury. “With new hotels being built in 2017 and 2018 this will provide some respite but demand will continue to be high.
The big bonus for Orbit clients is that we have a market-leading preferred supplier programme and we have our own dedicated product team that allows us to have the relationships, the negotiations, and agreements to ensure we get the best outcomes for our clients.
Technology that really benefits the clients
Technology has always played a key role in the way Orbit does business, and the rest of 2017 will be no different. Orbit’s focus says Orbit Wellington’s Managing Director Paul Rennie is on ensuring all technological developments provide clear, real world benefits to our clients. “Whether that is through our Orbit App, our booking tool, or invoicing solutions– unless there is a clear case of technology being tailored to the clients and their travellers, then you’re not truly managing expectations of the client. Gimmicks are nice, but the real value for is in the end benefit for clients”.
One example of technology staying one step ahead of client’s needs is the ongoing evolution of booking, managing and amending travel via one single entry point for clients. “What was accepted as a new-age online booking tool 5 years ago is quite different to what the client expects nowadays,” says Orbit Christchurch Managing Director Marc Bartram. “As a travel management company, it is our role to ensure that our booking systems are a one stop shop for clients. With clients being more knowledgeable about technology and systems – they rightly so, have higher expectations. Expectations that we as their travel provider need to constantly be on top of.”
Greater focus on duty of care solutions and leadership
As much as it is the elephant in the room – sadly bad things are happening around the world these days, things that directly impact business travel. Combined with airport strikes, flight disruptions, and erratic weather – it means looking after travellers properly is crucial. Duty of care responsibilities, as an employer will be huge in 2017, and it’s an area Orbit is looking to take industry leadership on.
“A robust duty of care proposition for clients is no longer just about looking after the staff when the worst case happens – it is now about becoming a fortune teller of sorts” says Orbit Dunedin Managing Director John Harley.” What is coming up that may disrupt travel plans – strikes, road closures, cancelled services, as well as pre-trip education about destinations. This is where we see duty of care leadership”. This is something Orbit are excited about, with a new duty of care product coming to market from Orbit soon.
Beyond 'so what'
How many times have you come across a report, research, even a news article where it leaves you saying ‘so what’ about some perceived fact…..In the business travel space, what we are seeing much more of (and this is good) is clients demanding more and more reporting and data from their travel provider.
“Our experience” says Orbit Hamilton Managing Director Paul Forward “is that clients are asking for more detailed data, more analysis, and really looking at the numbers and ensuring they know exactly what the patterns and trends are”
“Whether that is for the Manager, CE, or the Board – the trend is heading towards more requests for data, more information, and deeper levels of digging into a real understanding of where things can be improved”.
For 2017, Orbit has plans for rolling out a new reporting tool – one that will allow for an even greater level of data for clients, as well as the ability to have even more customised and tailored reporting.
Growth of the SME market
Why do I need a travel management company when I can just book direct myself? That’s a common question we get, but businesses are now starting to see key benefits of working with a travel management company – something we expect further growth of in 2017 and beyond.
“The business travel market has always existed for small-medium sized organisations,” says Orbit Nelson Managing Director Jason McKay. “Because it’s a competitive market and businesses have more choice, what we are seeing now is that there is a higher degree of understanding by businesses about how we work with the same hotels, airlines, and suppliers – just with better rates, relationships, and efficiencies. Add in duty of care, our systems, and tools, and account management – it’s a good offer.”
What’s next for your business travel priorities in 2017?