Insight: Key trends driving business travel in 2023
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Insight: Embracing the future of business travel

Insight: Embracing the future of business travel

We explore key trends that are reshaping the landscape of business travel

Sachin Gadoya of Musafir talks about the future of business travel

In the ever-evolving landscape of business travel, we find ourselves at the cusp of exciting trends that are reshaping the industry.

As professionals venture into new territories, forging connections and exploring diverse cultures, it’s crucial to stay abreast of the shifts that are revolutionising the way we embark on corporate journeys.

Today, we delve into the trends that will shape the future of business travel.

Here are the top trends that have changed business travel

Bleisure travel on the rise: One notable trend that has gained momentum is the rise of ‘bleisure’ travel.

Gone are the days when business trips were confined to boardrooms and hotel rooms. Today’s professionals are embracing the idea of blending work commitments with leisure activities, blurring the boundaries between business and pleasure.

‘Bleisure’ tourism accounts for almost 35 per cent of the global business tourism market and was worth $500bn (Dh2tn) according to statistics for FY2022.

Nearly 20 per cent of business travellers are including leisure activities in their business travel, and trends indicate that this number may go up to 15 per cent in the future.

This dynamic shift is evident as individuals extending their business trips by one or two days for leisure, and vice versa, becomes increasingly common.

Forecasts predict these trips will span more destinations, boasting longer durations. Larger international companies are quick to adopt this trend, while smaller-scale and local firms, which are not multinational corporations, may take more time to embrace it.

This trend not only allows professionals to explore new destinations but also enhances work-life balance, leading to increased productivity and well-being.

Technological advancements: Technology is undeniably at the forefront of transforming the way we navigate the world of business travel. The digital revolution has given rise to virtual meetings, seamless collaboration tools, and streamlined expense management systems.

Business travellers now expect companies to leverage technology to enhance their travel experience.

With the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, booking flights, managing itineraries, and receiving personalised travel recommendations have become easier than ever before.

The power of technology has not only made our journeys smoother but has also enabled businesses to optimise their travel operations and better serve their employees.

With MICE tech picking up momentum, we can see the emergence and use of technology in corporate events, especially through robotics, digital payments through wearables (which we anticipate will slowly but surely discourage and eventually discard the use of plastic cards) and paper-free advertising (including both event advertising as well as corporate and personal branding collateral that uses paper or paper products).

One particular area of interest that I’m very keen on and keeping an eye out for are hybrid events which would potentially allow remote attendance without compromising on the event experience.

Apple is launching the Vision Pro next year, and I feel it would be interesting to expect hybrid MICE options which might offer a more inclusive and immersive experience.

Sustainable travel practices: Another prominent trend shaping business travel is the increasing focus on sustainability and responsible travel practices. As global citizens become more environmentally conscious, businesses are recognising the importance of reducing their carbon footprint.

According to Deloitte, although just one in seven surveyed companies in the US and one in five in Europe expect sustainability curbs to reduce their travel in 2023, just over 40 per cent of each say they are working to optimise their corporate travel policy to decrease their environmental impact.

This shift has prompted the emergence of greener transportation options, eco-friendly accommodations, and initiatives to offset carbon emissions during business trips.

We expect the UAE’s rise as a preferred global MICE destination of choice to continue. Following the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (more commonly known as COP28) being held in Dubai in the last quarter of this year, we anticipate that the UAE will become a global hub for sustainability-based and -related events.

By embracing sustainable practices, companies not only contribute to the preservation of our planet but also enhance their corporate image and appeal to socially conscious consumers.

As we venture into the future, these trends serve as guideposts for businesses and professionals alike.

The convergence of ‘bleisure’ travel, technological advancements, and sustainable practices paint a vibrant picture of what lies ahead.

By embracing these trends, businesses can unlock new opportunities for growth, foster employee satisfaction, and contribute to a more sustainable world.

The writer is the co-founder and CEO of and Musafir Business.

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