Next Destination: The Age of Personalised Business Travel

Asia Pacific is fast becoming a hub for many lucrative industries. Global forecasting firm Oxford Economics has estimated that the Asia Pacific’s share of the global gross domestic product will increase from 31% in 2015 to 36% in 2030, more than that of the United States and Europe respectively. Business travel inevitably increases with such a substantial growth in the region. It’s estimated that spending on business trips to and within the region will rise to a staggering US$900 billion by 2025.

While most business travellers are just concerned about getting from Point A to Point B, the savvy ones expect their experience to offer the same level of personalisation that they receive on their personal trips. One company which offers such services is Egencia, the corporate travel arm of Expedia Group.

We asked Kenji Mirassou, Director, Global Sales APAC at Egencia, more about how the company continues to innovate in the business travel management space.

1. What’s unique about Egencia’s platform for business travel management?

Egencia’s business travel platform enables us to go beyond just distributing travel content like lodging and air options, to offer a full-service platform that unlocks strategic value for each and every business trip.

One example of this service is the data that Egencia Analytics Studio provides. The data-driven insights help travel managers identify new sources of savings and optimise their travel spend for flights, trains and accommodation among other categories. We can also directly address customer wants and needs through our 120-day product cycle and bring the leisure travel booking experience into business travel.

2. How does Egencia cultivate an innovation mindset within the company to avoid stagnation?

It’s about more than just improving the experience of using our product; it’s about never being satisfied with the status quo and always striving to be better. Having an innovation mindset means continuously finding ways to simplify, streamline and unlock more value from each business travel programme.

Egencia’s innovation process directly correlates to our business strategy to be customer-centric. We are constantly A/B testing our product and conducting more sophisticated experiments to understand what customers actually want. Each department has the ability to use the platform’s data to improve some aspects of our operations. The outcomes are then assessed by the team closest to that particular function. We’ve found that customers tell us a lot more about their wants and needs through their daily behaviours and through giving them simple choices.

3. Egencia taps onto the ubiquity of technology and the Internet. Is there anything on the horizon that you foresee will be a boom?

With corporate travel ripe for innovation and disruption, who knows what the future holds? But one thing’s for sure — Expedia Group is heading into personalised customer service. We like to say that the first 20 years of online travel was all about putting the power of booking in the hands of customers. But the next 20 years will be about using technology to fulfil the full travel agent promise.

4. What does travel mean to you at a personal level? Any place in the world you would like to visit next?

I believe in the power of travel to connect people and cultures and to make the world a better place. Having a French father and a Japanese mother, I wouldn’t have come to this world if my mother had not taken the initiative to make this (back then this over 30-hours) trip from Japan to France in the 1970s. My wife and I are thinking to organise our first three-generation family trip to Hokkaido. This will be the occasion for our three Singapore-born children to experience skiing for the first time and to discover their grandmother’s country of origin.

Kenji Mirassou is Director, Global Sales APAC at Egencia, the corporate travel arm of Expedia Group. He was one of the panellists for the panel discussion on “Why we should care about everyday innovation” at the inaugural DBS Asia X Creativity & Innovation Day that took place on 16 April 2019.