What's ahead for business travel?

A private suite on a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380.

Fewer stopovers, faster transit and luggage-free flying. We ask the experts about the big trends in business travel.

By Candice Chung

Julieanne Alroe

CEO and managing director, Brisbane Airport Corporation

Julieanne Alroe

1. What are the must-haves for the business traveller in 2018?

Inflight wi-fi, premium border processing and competitive loyalty programs.

2. What are some of the best recent developments for the business traveller?

Better-quality wi-fi in all airports, which is useful during shorter transits when there is no time to go to the lounge. New technology at immigration lines also means business travellers can now use e-gates to get through faster than via traditional desks. This is particularly useful for those with carry-on luggage only.

3. What are some new and innovative business travel products to look out for? 

The latest technology has created a new generation of aircraft that minimise the effects of jet lag [due to improved air quality, cabin lighting and meals tailored to the time of day], as well as more options for services that fly direct.

4. What’s your pick for the next big trend?

Longer and further flights – not only in terms of ultra-long-haul from the east coast of Australia to Europe and to the east coast of the US, but also new single-aisle, long-range aircraft such as the A321LR. 

We’re also seeing more initiatives around the world where people can travel “luggage free”. The increasing prevalence of door-to-door baggage shipping services, such as DUFL, means that your luggage can be picked up and delivered, so you won’t have to take it to and from the airport, which saves time and reduces hassle. It’s a welcome service for any traveller.

Chris Chamberlin

Staff writer, Australian Business Traveller, Twitter: @ChamberlinChris

Chris Chamberlin

1. What are the must-haves for the business traveller in 2018?

A Priority Pass airport lounge membership card, which gets you into more than 1100 airport lounges worldwide, regardless of which airline you’re flying with. Airline status is great, but Gold or Platinum cards only work if you are flying on your “home” airline or one of its partners. A Priority Pass is useful if your employer books you on a different airline every time you travel.

2. What are some of the best recent developments for the business traveller?

Non-stop flights are the new trend in business travel, aided by modern aircraft types such as the long-range Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Air Canada now offers non-stop flights to Vancouver from Melbourne and Brisbane, and Etihad Airways recently removed its Singapore stopover on journeys between Brisbane and Abu Dhabi. The number of non-stop flights between Australia and ports all over China also continues to grow.

3. What are some new and innovative business travel products to look out for?

Qantas and Virgin Australia now offer inflight wi-fi on selected flights, which helps business travellers keep in touch with the office, the stock market or loved ones when they are in the air.

4. What’s your pick for the next big trend?

Healthier eating is becoming a big part of business travel, with airlines adding lighter dishes to inflight and lounge menus. Airport gyms are also popular. Etihad Airways now offers gym facilities in its Abu Dhabi first-class lounge, while Doha’s Hamad International Airport offers a pay-to-use gym and pool.

David Goldman 

Joint managing director, Goldman Travel

David Goldman

1. What are the must-haves for the business traveller in 2018?

Hybrid devices such as the ultra-thin Microsoft Surface Pro. Basically anything that’s multifunctional, easy to charge, and ready to go.

2. What are some of the best recent developments for the business traveller?

What’s been invaluable are apps that send push notifications for changes in flight schedules. We use TripCase, powered by Sabre Travel Network.

3. What are some new and innovative business travel products to look out for?

The evolution of private suites in business class. Most airlines offer the flatbed experience, however a growing number now have more private hybrid business-first suites. Some aircraft will shortly also be introducing access to Netflix, making entertainment options more personalised.

4. What’s your pick for the next big trend?

The growth of the bleisure market, where business travellers add a leisure element to their trip. The ability to work on the go, plus limited downtime, means more might consider taking pre- or post-business holidays.

John Simeone

Head of business and government sales, Qantas

John Simeone

1. What are the must-haves for the business traveller in 2018?

Loyalty programs through which businesses can earn points every time an employee travels as a frequent flyer are a must-have. Some companies use the points they earn to reward employees through incentive trips, while others use them on flights to help reduce their overall travel costs. 

2. What are some of the best recent developments for the business traveller?

New and renovated lounges. As part of the new direct Dreamliner route, our new London Heathrow lounge is equipped with a dedicated gin bar. Meanwhile, lounges in the new domestic and international hub in Perth Airport include a wellness centre, outdoor deck and an al fresco dining area.

3. What are some new and innovative business travel products to look out for?

In long-haul travel, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner now offers better cabin pressure and lower noise, and innovations that minimise the effects of jet lag. Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre conducted research on everything from transit lounge wellness, menu design and service timing to cabin lighting and temperature to improve the experience for customers, helping them to arrive refreshed and ready to do business. Some customers dub the new Dreamliner business suites as a “mini first class”.  

4. What’s your pick for the next big trend?

Personalisation will be a key focus. Cabin crew will be using the RED customer service app inflight, providing real-time information about customers’ travel preferences. 

Professional Development: CPA Q&A. Access a handpicked selection of resources each month and complete a short monthly assessment to earn CPD hours. Exclusively available to CPA Australia members.

The amenities stash

Inflight amenity kits have come a long way since they first appeared on long-haul flights in the 1950s. Today, premium-class amenity kits have evolved to be more than a sleeping mask, socks and less-than-tasty toothpaste. The aim now is to soothe the skin and the soul.

Etihad Airways’ kits for first-class flyers are loaded with skincare from Christian Lacroix. Travellers at the front of an Emirates’ aircraft are rewarded with leather Bulgari bags and self-moisturising sleepwear. (The chic pyjamas are infused with a nutrient-rich sea kelp extract that is released as you move. Who knew?)

Those onboard the first Qantas Dreamliner 787 flights between Melbourne and Los Angeles this year received a limited-edition Oroton kit packed with top-shelf ASPAR skincare lotions by Aurora Spas. 

Travellers blog about reusing such bags as evening wear, make-up bags or pouches for their chargers, cables and USB sticks.

Delta One flyers on Delta Air Lines are treated to a Tumi hard-shell amenity case. Monogram the attached patch with your initials! 

Singapore Airlines has a kit that cares for your clothes, with a crease-release spray to remove pesky wrinkles and a wash-and-stain bar that lets travellers spot-treat stains on the go.

Even passengers in economy enjoy a little luxury. Turkish Airlines offers slippers instead of socks plus Chopard toiletries.

Read next: How you can beat the business travel blues


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