From frictionless to ‘FrictionZero’ in business travel

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4 min read

JOHANNESBURG – In an age where even the brief wait for a coffee feels too long, the business travel scene is undergoing a radical transformation. Welcome to the era of ‘FrictionZero’ Travel, where the concept of ‘waiting’ is as outdated as fax machines. This shift isn’t just about speeding up the transit process; it mirrors a deeper societal evolution where every second counts and the demand for immediacy pervades every aspect of our lives.

Gone are the days of tolerating the slow pace of traditional travel inconveniences. Today, empowered by technological leaps and a collective reevaluation of priorities, travellers demand journeys that aren’t just fast—they’re instant, intuitive, and seamlessly integrated into their digital existence.

FrictionZero Travel is the response to this modern requirement, a paradigm where travel nuisances are not just reduced but eradicated. It stands as a testament to our high-speed demands, ensuring that business travel transforms from a necessary evil into an effortless extension of our interconnected lives.

Bonnie Smith, GM at Corporate Traveller, highlights the potential for monumental time savings at every turn of the business travel spiral – a mission that companies like hers have made their crusade. She estimates that through TMC optimisation, we’re looking at reclaiming up to four full working weeks a year. Intrigued? Let’s delve deeper.

Streamlined planning saves 8-10 hours

Even the simplest trip today requires patching together flights, hotels, transport, and an itinerary across disconnected websites and apps. With no integrated view, you might spend two hours per trip just confirming everything syncs up properly. Multiply that by your yearly trip load, and that’s weeks of lost productivity.

Smith says empowering your travellers with an online booking platform (OBT) is the way to go.“ Your travellers can book their own travel quickly and within policy. It’s also easy to set up an efficient approvals process that satisfies the needs of your travellers and management,” she adds. Travellers could finalise trips with a few clicks in under 15 minutes. Assuming four trips per year, nearly 8-10 working hours could be returned. 

Another friction point and time-waster on business trips is the constant filling in of forms and selecting preferences. Filling out the same forms and selecting the same preferences over and over is another drag. With automated preferences, travellers stay happy by default. No more picking aisle seats, special meals, gym access – it’s all stored and applied automatically every time, says Smith.

Supported visa applications shave 10-15 hours

Applying for international visas piles on more painful paperwork for pressed business travellers. Endless forms, document chasing, health checks, and embassy runs devour productive hours. Surveys suggest the visa scramble burns nearly a full working day for a typical visa.

Smith advises checking if your company’s TMC offers visa support services. For countries still requiring traditional visas, specialised teams can shave hours off the process by centralising documentation, leveraging verification systems, and appointing application agents.

Smarter travel saves ~5 Hours 

Between check-in, security, immigration, delays, and rental pickups, we easily kill half a day just moving between points A and B. One trend in frictionless travel is the adoption of biometrics, such as facial recognition, to replace traditional forms of identification and streamline security checks. Conservatively, automated travel functionality probably would save only 30-60 minutes per trip. But recovered minutes add up – giving you almost five working hours back yearly.

But the real time and stress-saving hero is emergency assistance when things go sideways, explains Smith. Remember when airlines had major computer failures grounding flights globally? Thousands of passengers scrambled to rebook travel as schedules tanked. Hours wasted in customer service queues or on hold.

“That’s where an experienced travel manager can prove invaluable,” Smith advises. “They quickly assess the situation, leverage relationships and contacts, and spot alternative airports, airlines and backup solutions while others are still stuck in line.” Crisis travel support like that? Pure gold. Keeping travellers updated with real-time messages is another of those little things that a TMC does to make them feel more at ease and able to focus on what they are doing while away from home, says Smith.

Optimised financials save 10+ hours 

Let’s talk about the time blackhole of expense reports after trips. Collecting paper receipts, then manually building reports? That pointless busywork burns at least 3-4 hours per trip.

But travel management tech can rescue us from admin hell, says Smith. She explains mobile apps capture and categorise expenses on the fly while automated reporting populates cost summaries with one click for manager approval.

Altogether, a frictionless approach returns balance for the traveller – with FrictionZero being the goal.  “The hours saved can instead be spent on meaningful work and personal priorities otherwise neglected due to compounding travel admin and disruptions,” concludes Smith.

For more information about Corporate Traveller, or to interview Corporate Traveller South Africa GM Bonnie Smith, call Dorine Reinstein on 083 278 8994 or email dorine@bigambitions.co.za.