How emerging industries are redefining business travel

6 min read

Work has been radically reimagined in the past few years. We’ve moved beyond traditional offices to embrace a trend that lets us work from just about anywhere – a beach, a mountain, or our favourite coffee shop.

Alongside this change, we’re witnessing the birth of new industries that are destined to make a splash. By 2028, we expect ten emerging industries – Renewable Energy, AI, E-commerce, Healthcare Technology, Sustainable Agriculture, Smart Home Technology, Cybersecurity, VR/AR, Renewable Materials, and Electric Vehicles – to have significantly transformed the way we do business, interact, and approach sustainability.

For a dynamic country like South Africa, with its rich resources and pool of talent, these emerging industries offer exciting prospects. They’re not just about job creation, but also fostering inventive ways of working, enhancing productivity, and embracing sustainability.

But this transformation doesn’t happen in isolation. It has ripple effects, including on business travel.

Bonnie Smith, GM of Corporate Traveller, highlights how these new industries are impacting this aspect of the business world.

Renewable Energy and Electric Vehicles (EVs)

South Africa is quite the powerhouse when it comes to renewable resources. With some of the strongest sunlight and ample wind, it’s perfectly set up for renewable energy generation. As the world craves more and more clean energy and renewable materials, South Africa is in a prime position. This surge in demand could lead to a boost in jobs in energy production, as well as related fields like manufacturing, installation, and upkeep.

As the renewable energy and electric vehicle sectors start to pick up speed, those working in these fields will find themselves on the move. Establishing partnerships, inspecting sites, and overseeing projects will require travel. But, in keeping with their commitment to the environment, they’ll be looking for greener travel options. Think eco-friendly accommodation, carbon-neutral flights, and electric vehicle rentals. It’s about making choices that align with their mission to protect our planet.

AI and Cybersecurity

South Africa’s tech sector is on the upswing. As the world leans into AI, Cybersecurity, and VR/AR technologies, there’s a wealth of opportunity for South Africa to grow in these domains. The focus is on building a solid tech ecosystem that could draw investment and lead to valuable job creation. With the right educational programmes and training, South Africa could become a notable player in the global tech arena.

It’s worth noting that industries like AI and cybersecurity require advanced skills and often benefit from direct collaboration and knowledge sharing. This creates specific business travel needs. It’s not only about getting to the right place but also maintaining secure data access during travel and finding accommodation with reliable, secure high-speed internet. In essence, the goal is to ensure that travel arrangements fully support the requirements of these tech-focused fields.

E-commerce, Online Retail, Smart Home Technology and VR/AR

South Africa is making significant strides when it comes to internet coverage and mobile connectivity. With e-commerce and smart home technologies on the rise, we can expect new job openings in fields like software development, digital marketing, and customer service. Plus, it paves the way for local businesses to break into international markets and diversify their clientele.

As these digital marketplaces become more widespread, travel is set to play a vital role for networking, teaming up, and keeping relationships with partners strong. It’s going to be about being able to travel when needed, having flexible travel plans, and staying connected. For those working remotely, fast and reliable internet access will be a must. They’ll also need suitable spaces to showcase their products, making the right environment crucial in this sector.

Healthcare Technology

South Africa’s healthcare sector stands to benefit significantly from advancements in technology. The integration of AI and other digital solutions could not only improve service delivery but also create jobs in tech development, data analysis, and healthcare administration.

In-person trainings, conferences, and collaboration for new technologies and treatment methods require travel. Here, health-conscious accommodations, quick access to healthcare facilities, and wellness amenities during transit can make a difference.

Sustainable Agriculture and Renewable Materials

Given South Africa’s rich agricultural heritage, sustainable practices could modernise the sector while preserving resources for future generations. It creates jobs in farming, research and development, supply chain management, and more.

Travel for these sectors involves site visits, farmer interactions, and auditing for sustainable practices. They require travel services that prioritise local sourcing, sustainable practices, and have strong ties to the local communities.

These ten emerging industries are set to bring a wave of transformation that could fuel South Africa’s economic growth, foster innovation, and create new job opportunities. By embracing changes and investing in these promising sectors, South Africa could position itself as a global competitor and leader in the evolving business landscape.

“The rise of these ten industries is also redefining the blueprint for business travel,” explains Smith, adding that in this time of rapid industry transformation and emerging industries, a specialised travel management company (TMC) can make all the difference. She says: “A TMC will customise travel policies to match each specific industry, ensuring that corporate travel remains efficient, within budget, and above all, safe.”

Emphasising the value of aligning travel with industry values, Smith points out that, “In a country such as South Africa where the use of electric or hybrid vehicles isn’t widespread, a TMC can prioritise this need when booking, identifying the right suppliers. Similarly, for tech industries, we can layer in cybersecurity advice, ensuring that corporate travellers are prepared to keep their data secure, no matter where their work takes them.”

Shifting to environmental considerations, Smith underscores the role of a TMC in supporting sustainable practices. “As environmental consciousness is increasingly crucial, we assist corporations in calculating and reducing their carbon emissions. This is achieved through features in our online booking tool that not only inform the traveller of the carbon emissions associated with their chosen travel, but also suggest more eco-friendly alternatives.”

She further emphasises a TMC’s role in eco-friendly accommodation selection and carbon offsetting: “We know which accommodations are more ecologically friendly and help our clients align their travel choices with their sustainability goals. Beyond this, we provide comprehensive reporting on the CO2 emissions and overall carbon footprint of a trip, with suggestions on how to offset these emissions.”

Smith concludes, “Our role as a TMC isn’t just about facilitating travel – it’s about helping organisations travel responsibly, providing a complete, industry-specific service that aligns with their values and makes business travel a seamless, secure, and efficient process.”

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