Professionals travelling for work can expect to see shifts in how they get from point A to point B as the latest wave of technological advancements reaches business travel. With automated vehicles, flying taxis and convenient technologies like chatbots and the Internet of Things (IoT) on the near horizon, the future of corporate travel promises to be one of speed and convenience. Improvements in the field are alleviating common travel pain points, and enterprising transit providers should be taking note.
As seen in the way smart cities are tackling transit, increased access to Wi-Fi and open data is equipping users to anticipate and respond to common travel frustrations including wait times, delays, cancellations, missed connections and the added work of locating quality services while on the road. This increased focus on “experience first” in the business travel market is possible thanks to the development of myriad mobile apps, software for linked trips and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions.
For example, South African-based consortium XL Travel has created XLGO, a personalized digital concierge service for business and leisure travellers. This platform helps users avoid headaches and reduce travel times by linking trips on separate modes of transit, providing itinerary management and sending real-time updates on any changes, delays or cancellations.
Moreover, AI is creating a more personal, tailored business travel experience. Chatbots—conversational technologies like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri—supply immediate responses, and chatbots designed specifically to address the concerns of professionals on the go are in the works. The benefits of voice-activated, hands-free solutions are numerous to busy travellers who already have multiple plates in the air. As advancements continue to be made to AI, we can expect to see this technology add value and convenience to business travel.
Anticipating Autonomous Taxis
With new technology from Tesla and Google’s Waymo catalyzing a rise in self-driving vehicles, it’s not surprising that companies like nuTonomy, Uber and Lyft are testing out self-driving ridesharing services. With potential benefits including fewer road accidents, reduced traffic congestion and lower emissions, autonomous vehicles (AV) make up the next big wave of innovation in transportation. As AVs enter the space, customers taking business trips can expect a change in the way they engage with every mode of transport, including taxis and rideshares.
The rise of autonomous vehicles also means that cabin layouts may change—an exciting prospect for business travellers. Inward-facing chairs and room for collaboration in the cabin could turn the traditional vehicle into an efficient working space for meetings in transit. Responsive vehicle software will likely also get in on the business of alerting travellers to itinerary changes and delays, making your mode of transportation part of a host of integrated solutions.
High-Speed Transit: Hyperloop and Super Trains
Business travellers can also look forward to a not-so-distant future of speedy commutes and shortened, day-long business trips thanks to exciting advancements in high-speed transit options. The hyperloop, a tube system with passenger pods that can reach speeds of up to 700mph, is already well into development, with a successful trial completed in 2017. This swift technology will have the ability to reduce commute times significantly; you can expect a future business trip from Montreal to Toronto to take 30 minutes instead of an hour and a half. And, with a system that could see pods departing every few minutes, business travellers have reduced wait times to look forward to.
With advancements in magnetic levitation (maglev) technology happening as we speak, the future of corporate travel will also likely involve super-trains. Maglev systems have been in operation since 1984, and are still making leaps forward: Chinese researchers are projecting their bullet train prototype could reach speeds of 620mph. A proposed maglev project in the U.S. would cut travel time from New York to Washington from three hours to one hour (and possibly even thirty minutes!)
With the emergence of exciting new technologies, the future of business travel has never looked so painless. As improved AI and mobile app technology surfaces at an ever-more-rapid pace, business travellers can expect a seamless travel experience—along with innovative and fast new transit modes—in the coming years. Fleet managers and transit providers should be prepared to capitalize on this demand for multi-modal transport and convenient trip-management apps in order to remain part of the picture for business travellers.
Image: Shutterstock / Pavel Chagochkin