Business Traveller (Africa) - - TMCS IN AFRICA -

Over the last few years, the shar­ing econ­omy has ex­ploded, with rides on bikes, in cars, and on planes be­ing shared. Pri­vate rooms and even en­tire apart­ments and homes are be­ing opened to the pub­lic. And, with the lines be­tween work and pri­vate life blur­ring more by the day for Mil­len­nial and Gen­er­a­tion X em­ploy­ees, the shar­ing econ­omy is en­ter­ing the busi­ness travel in­dus­try with full force.

But as travel man­agers en­deav­our to meet the de­mands of their trav­ellers, they must do so with­out com­pro­mis­ing their or­ga­ni­za­tions’ duty of care for em­ploy­ees and travel policy com­pli­ance.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study con­ducted by FCM Travel So­lu­tions and the African Busi­ness Travel As­so­ci­a­tion (ABTA), al­most 90% of busi­ness trav­ellers in South Africa are us­ing Uber and Airbnb for busi­ness travel pur­poses. How­ever, as many as 40% are do­ing so with­out the per­mis­sion or en­dorse­ment of their com­pa­nies.

“We have al­ready seen an in­creas­ing role in our space,” says Louis van Zyl, CEO of Carl­son Wagonlit South Africa. “We do, how­ever, have to match new as­pects and op­por­tu­ni­ties to en­hance our customer ex­pe­ri­ence with our role to com­ply with our cus­tomers’ gov­er­nance and com­pli­ance re­quire­ments. These are se­ri­ous re­spon­si­bil­i­ties we have to ful­fil and try­ing to be early adopters and of­fer­ing cost-cut­ting op­por­tu­ni­ties at the ex­pense of cor­po­rate trav­eller safety is some­thing we can’t af­ford.”

Both Airbnb and Uber – ar­guably the two big­gest names in the travel space, from a shar­ing econ­omy point of view – have made it clear that they want a sig­nif­i­cant stake in the cor­po­rate travel mar­ket, and as such have al­ready de­vel­oped prod­ucts tar­geted specif­i­cally at this mar­ket.

The for­mer has Airbnb for Work, whilst Uber for Busi­ness claims to “help or­ga­ni­za­tions across the globe per­fect ground trans­porta­tion pro­grammes, mak­ing them more ef­fi­cient and cost-ef­fec­tive,” ac­cord­ing to Uber.

Uber has gone a step fur­ther by en­ter­ing into part­ner­ships with var­i­ous travel man­age­ment com­pa­nies. As a part of the col­lab­o­ra­tion, Uber for Busi­ness will ben­e­fit from ad­di­tional in­sights from the travel man­age­ment in­dus­try, al­low­ing it to fur­ther en­hance prod­ucts and so­lu­tions tai­lored to the needs of ev­ery busi­ness.

There’s no fight­ing it – the shar­ing econ­omy is go­ing to con­tinue to play an even big­ger role in the cor­po­rate travel space. Sure, is­sues such as duty of care and the in­te­gra­tion into travel policy per­haps aren’t solved yet, if one looks at the in­dus­try across the board, but it’s just a mat­ter of time, and, again, those look­ing for an edge can steal a march on their com­peti­tors if they are proac­tive and re­cep­tive to change.

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