by Matt Alderton | November 30, 2012

Video: Experts discuss benefits of virtual meeting components 

As companies continue to focus on cutting and controlling costs in 2013, more of them will begin embracing hybrid meetings, forecasts Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), which yesterday published its predictions for the top 25 business travel trends of 2013.

"Meetings and events held both in person and online ("hybrid" events) will be explored by more companies as a way to control costs while leveraging social and other features offered by new technologies," CWT predicts.

Technology features prominently in CWT's predictions. Other business travel trends it anticipates, for instance, include:

Online reviews: "Hotel reviews by corporate travelers will improve the travel experience and boost negotiations with hoteliers," CWT says. "While one in three business travelers already post reviews online of properties they stay at, social reviews will hold more sway in the business travel program with the adoption of new corporate review sites."

Gamification: "Game techniques will become more popular as a way to reinforce compliance with the travel program," CWT forecasts.

Virtual customer service: "New virtual agents or 'avatars' provided by airlines, airports and TMCs will assist travelers with booking, check- in and other questions," CWT predicts.

Social media: "Social media strategies will be implemented by almost two thirds of global travel managers as a key action to improve traveler experience," CWT says.

Apps: "Technology will be the traveler's best friend, with mobile/WiFi connectivity and a growing range of business travel apps making travel smoother and more productive," CWT predicts.

Also big in 2013, according to CWT, will be business travel growth in Brazil, India and China; low-fare airlines; high-speed rail travel; and traveler health and wellness.

Said CWT Head of Innovation Patrice Simon, "Our travelers want to plan, book and manage their business travel as easily as they do their leisure travel. For travelers, 2013 will be about developing instant, relevant and bookable services. For companies, it will be about gaining access to large amounts of data from multiple sources via real-time dashboards."

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