Amiad Solomon is the founder and CEO of HQ, a unique technology platform for corporate transportation.
For the transportation and mobility industry, the pandemic brought not only technological innovation but also a reshuffling of priorities to put health and safety front and center.
According to my company’s research, corporate travel is gradually returning to pre-pandemic ride levels. As this trend continues, travel programs need to figure out how they will adapt going forward, especially when it comes to safety protocols, but also to offset the challenges rideshare has faced regarding driver shortages and ride price inflation.
In this way, corporate travel solutions complement rather than compete with each other in a way that benefits the passenger, which could enable businesses to consider all mobility services to ensure the highest standard of health and safety for every journey.
Health And Safety
Covid-19 has been a powerful reminder of the importance of duty of care. For corporate mobility, protecting employees can only be achieved when guaranteed safety measures are in place before, during and after a trip. These range from vehicle cleaning, sanitization between rides to vaccine mandates and mandatory face coverings for drivers.
As part of the corporate travel program, it’s possible to have these measures contractually agreed upon with vetted suppliers. This ensures maximum business travel safety coupled with the autonomy to customize travel policies in today’s constantly changing environment. By giving employers and employees full transparency on all the details that affect their trip, they are equipped with the tools and information needed to stay safe.
It’s a level of care and control that larger transportation network companies have found challenging to implement and oversee. For ridesharing giants, guaranteeing full compliance across their entire fleet is constrained by limitations on accountability and enforcement with drivers considered independent contractors.
In the early days of rideshare, ridesharing apps were seen as the cheapest and fastest way to hail a ride powered by a tech-driven solution new to the market. In 2022, this is no longer the case. According to Rakuten Intelligence, the cost of a ride from both Uber and Lyft increased by 92% between January 2018 and July 2021. Just as business travelers prepare to travel again, travelers have been faced with frustratingly long wait times and surge pricing rates.
Ridesharing apps are being pulled in two opposite directions with returning requests for rides, driver shortages and rising inflation. It’s a perfect storm of high demand and low supply that makes ridesharing no longer the first port of call, especially for corporate travel.
Business Travel And Technology
Business travel at its core is about human interaction as travelers ride, fly, stay and engage with others. It’s an in-person experience that’s almost always organized online, from flight tickets, airport shuttles to taxi rides and hotel bookings. That’s why technology is at the forefront of trends and solutions that integrate health and safety protocols with these three trends.
With these trends in mind, businesses should consider all possible avenues to keep their employees safe. Here are a few ways that technology is aiding in this mission.
1. Contactless payments and self-service airport and hotel check-ins. These solutions offer travelers greater convenience and flexibility throughout the business journey while reducing touchpoints and potential health risks.
2. Automation throughout the travel booking process. For businesses, real-time data can provide unparalleled insight to make better decisions based on demand, price and activity. Along with new automation technology, travel services and solutions will be increasingly tailored to business travelers’ personal needs based on previous travel behavior and preferences.
3. Corporate mobility solutions. These can include platforms to allocate corporate travel budgets, set the price range and choose mobility services. When selecting corporate mobility solutions, consider how the solution would interact with the goal of protecting the health and safety of employees and guests.
It’s clear that recovery and resilience are about adapting and adjusting even during periods of uncertainty. At this pivotal moment for corporate travel, it’s time to make our reshuffled priorities more permanent, so we continually focus on the health and safety of our workforce.
To reimagine the future of business travel, we must embrace the lessons learned, insights gained and technological advancements achieved. This can be realized by working together, leaning into the strengths of traditional car providers and ridesharing and making decisions that focus on employee well-being and convenience.