Patrick Foo, Vice President of Southeast Asia, India, Middle East, Africa, Hong Kong, Korea, and Taiwan, PayPal
Corporate travel is back with a vengeance.
The rapid recovery of corporate travel this year is likely to breathe new life into Asia's travel and hospitality sectors, providing much-needed relief after a challenging period.
Asian carriers like Singapore Airlines1 and Cathay Pacific2 are profitable once again, shrugging off lingering concerns about inflation and high fuel prices. Things are looking up for hotels too, with major players like Accor bullish3 about 2023, in part due to China’s reopening.
Although corporate travel has typically been more volatile and slower to recover than leisure travel after economic downturns, the current forecast indicates that corporate travel budgets are expected to recover to 98% of pre-pandemic levels this year4.
In fact, corporate travel in a quarter of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were found to return at pre-COVID levels, with 34% anticipating a full recovery by the end of this year.
As corporate travelers return, so too do opportunities for businesses that cater to them. From airlines, hotel reservations down to ancillary services, merchants, and providers need to formulate strategies on how to make the most of the market recovery.
The travel industry is ready for takeoff and in an age of convenience and security, one easy way to accelerate business growth across channels, markets, and buying stages is to make payments as simple and frictionless as possible.
The pandemic had a profound impact on payments, with a massive acceleration in the adoption of digital options5. Accordingly, users expect a secure and convenient way to pay for goods and services.
This is particularly true for travel. However, corporate travel payments have never been simple because of multiple touchpoints that involve various merchants such as travel agencies, hotels, airlines, and insurance providers among others. Each of these merchants may have their own payment processing systems and requirements, which can add layers of complexity to the travel planning process.
This can become a huge administrative nightmare for businesses, who could consider an all-in-one business travel platform to reduce costs and complexity for travel managers.
As businesses seek to streamline their corporate travel processes, a third-party payment processor like PayPal can offer significant benefits. By securely storing personal data, corporate travelers can avoid the hassle of repeatedly entering their information, resulting in a faster and more seamless process. This not only improves the experience but also reduces barriers to subsequent repeat purchases, leading to increased customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Travel is one of the industries that is most vulnerable to fraud6. As such, peace of mind is particularly important for corporate travelers, who might feel a little more vulnerable than they do at home, especially in places they’re visiting a city for the first time.
For this reason, being able to make purchases securely is crucial for corporate travelers, who might be unfamiliar with exchange rates or hidden processing fees. A global payments platform like PayPal provides an added layer of security by safeguarding users’ account, transaction information and covers eligible transactions with PayPal Buyer Protection.
Through PayPal, corporate travelers can also effortlessly make payments with the PayPal Currency Calculator to verify their charges in 25 different currencies before confirming a transaction. Given our presence in over 200 markets, travelers can be assured of the convenience of using PayPal on the go.
The rise of sustainable corporate travel in a new generation of payments
As the urgency of the climate crisis becomes more evident, consumers are becoming increasingly conscious about their carbon footprint. More businesses are also reporting their net zero transition goals to shareholders.
While credit cards and cash are a great way for organizations to handle a high number of corporate travelers, these payment methods are not sustainable as, minting money7 and printing cards carry a sizable environmental impact.
On the other hand, new generation of payments such as digital wallets are a convenient, electronic way for business travelers to safely store different payment methods and access funds from their devices. One in two consumers prefer using digital wallets when travelling8.
The benefits of digital wallets for corporate travelers are clear as it provides a secure and seamless experience while they are on the go. For businesses, digital payments provide greater visibility into travel spend and reduces their carbon footprint.
Convenience is king when it comes to travel
The resurgence of corporate travel in Asia and beyond presents a promising outlook for the travel and hospitality industries. As businesses look to capitalize on this opportunity, streamlining payment processes will be key.
By embracing a new generation of payments, merchants can enhance the customer experience and increase customer loyalty. Since payments are at the heart of every business transaction, the importance of making payments simple, secure, and frictionless cannot be overstated.
1 SIA Group post record quarterly and nine-month profits on strong demand, Singapore Airlines, February 2023
2 Cathay Pacific Posts First Operating Profit Since Before Covid, Bloomberg, March 2023
3 Hotel group Accor beats on core earnings, bullish on Chinese tourists, Reuters, February 2023
4 2023 Outlook: Business Travel Bounces Back, Morgan Stanley, December 2022
5 Covid-19 accelerated the digitalisation of payments, BIS, December 2021
6 The business of fraud: Travel, hospitality, and loyalty fraud, Recorded Future, May 2022
7 Sustainability Report 2021/2022, Monetary Authority of Singapore, July 2022
8 World Payments Report, Cap Gemini, August 2020