Top Takeaways from ‘Fusion’ for the Evolving Travel Landscape

SAP Concur Fusion occurred in Las Vegas last week, and the Direct Travel team was in attendance – including our Vice President of Technology, Brianna Conway. Brianna spoke in a TMC Spotlight education session about the trends she is seeing in the industry, as well as how Direct Travel is helping customers meet both business and traveler demands in this ever-changing landscape.

For those who were unable to attend in person but are eager to implement learnings from the event, here are our top takeaways from Fusion 2024.

The Next Generation

Gen-Z will soon make up the majority of the business travel workforce, with Gen-Alpha not far behind. While the foundations of travel policies are not likely to change overnight, each new generation brings fresh motivators and different behaviors compared to their predecessors.

Brianna weighed in on this shift happening within the corporate travel population, saying that “Based on what we’ve seen so far, we can anticipate that Gen-Z and Gen-Alpha will prioritize health and wellness, flexibility, and smart technology that fits seamlessly into their day.”

Those who manage travel can further address younger generations’ priorities such as these by ensuring that their travel program adequately supports employees fully as people, not just as travelers.

Tech-Tonic Shifts: Technology and AI

Technology (and most specifically, Artificial Intelligence) continues to drive change in the travel industry and impacts the roles and strategies of travel professionals. Organizations are turning to AI to help streamline their processes and enhance efficiency, from customer interaction and support to data analysis and software development.

These new technologies are rapidly transforming travel management. Data informs everything, and platforms – like our own Direct Intelligence – provide clients with the ability to access existing reports, create custom reports, and derive meaning from that data. Expect technology and AI to continue to influence the industry landscape for the next generation of business travelers.

Increased Actions in the Sustainability Space

Upcoming sustainability regulations like the mandated public reporting of Green House Gas emissions will continue to affect the industry. Although many travel managers are already attempting to make their travel programs more sustainable, they may still be experiencing barriers such as:

  • Unclear sustainability objectives
  • Lack of reporting capabilities
  • Budget concerns
  • Lack of leadership support

To help navigate these obstacles, travel professionals can lean on their trusted partners to stay fully informed on what’s to come in the sustainability space. In fact, the Direct Travel team has already compiled sustainability updates – among other upcoming trends – into our 2024 Whitepaper available as a free resource for travel managers.

Navigating Travel Compliance

A major theme from SAP Concur Fusion is the importance of having a regimented travel approval process in place, and multiple sessions at the event reinforced the importance of policy compliance. Strict policy adherence fosters transparency, accountability, and efficiency, and leads to enhanced duty of care and spend visibility.

When examining your existing travel and expense policy, consider what type of approval process makes sense for your organization. For example, should every business trip require approval, or only trips with airfare and hotels over a certain amount? Each company has different needs here, so ensure that you use a booking tool that grants this flexibility.

Once the organization’s policy is in a successful place, a way to further encourage compliance is by taking the time to inform team members about the policy. Travelers who are regularly reminded about policy details will be more likely to stay accountable.

All Eyes On NDC

Our industry has quickly been brought up to speed regarding the latest developments with New Distribution Capability (NDC). Not surprisingly, this change in the means of distributing and accessing airline fares and services is reshaping business travel.

Customer needs are driving these NDC technological innovations, and new content channels are being created to meet this demand. As the industry continues to adapt to NDC developments and multi-sourced content, it is clear that travel programs are benefiting from an omnichannel service approach.

What is Next After Fusion?

Attendees at SAP Concur Fusion gained tips on how to enhance employee satisfaction, mitigate risk, and transform their spend management. The event offered valuable insights on how to navigate the evolving landscape of corporate travel, but the conversation does not need to end now that the event is over.

If you were unable to join us in person but are interested in learning how a partnership with Direct Travel can enhance your travel program, contact us to set up a demo with Brianna Conway and our team.