A Look Ahead: Where Business Travel Will Be In 10 Years

The world is changing, but what does this mean for the world of business travel?

Employees on business trips a decade from now will likely be traveling in an entirely different way. Depending on how technology evolves over time, corporate trips could look very different than they do now.

Let’s take a look at where business travel will be in 10 years and what the future may bring.

Instant Translations

For businesses that have international clients and partners, instantaneous translation technology could be a game changer. What if you could converse easily in a meeting while your words were being translated as you speak? How would this change your approach to international business? Would you have the ability to broaden your book of business easily due to this type of technology?

The concept of instant in-ear translation might remind you of the Babel Fish, a small leech-like yellow alien from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books that sits inside your ear, feeds on brain wave energy and instantly translates anything said to you in any language (creepy!).

However, this technology is no longer in the realm of science fiction. An ear piece exists that can translate languages instantly is now on the horizon. No longer will you have to imagine a business environment with no language barriers. You will soon be able to take a business trip to Japan, Brazil or any other country and be able to seamlessly network with others even if you don’t speak the language. Talk about expanding the possibilities for international business travel!

Elon Musk and Hyperloop

When Elon Musk and the Hyperloop concept first sparked a frenzy in 2013, it was just a big idea. His concept was to carry passengers or cargo in airless tubes, which would allow them to travel at speeds of up to 700 mph.

Many people believed it was too far fetched to become a reality. However, five years later, a version of this futuristic tube-based transport system is now being constructed in the Nevada desert.

This means that 10 years from now, Musk’s hyperloop system is even more likely to be a practical reality. After all, it consists of already existing technologies – it’s just part bullet train and part vacuum system. If it could work on a large scale and become commercially viable, it would change business travel as we know it – and personal travel too.

It would allow human beings to travel long distances faster than ever before. For example, Musk is planning to dig a hyperloop tunnel between Washington DC and New York City that could make the journey only 30 minutes. Currently, the fastest Amtrak train makes the trip in under three hours.

This would also save considerable amounts of time on business trips. It would transform the morning commute and widen the area in which we can do business. Imagine working in New York, but taking a 30 minute journey to Washington DC for a meeting, then returning to the office by the end of the day?

However, even if the reality of Hyperloop is still many years away, the work going into it will produce tools and technologies that can improve existing industries. NASA’s Apollo missions led to the invention of firefighting equipment, cordless drills and supercomputers. Hyperloop has the potential to inspire innovation in the world of transportation in much the same way.

Autonomous Transport

It is predicted that by 2021, mass autonomous transport will be available. This means that in only a few years, you could be traveling to business meetings in driverless taxis rather than having to drive yourself or hire a driver.

In fact, this is already a reality in some parts of the world. For example, Uber launched a fleet of driverless cars in Pittsburgh in 2016.

What will autonomous transport mean for the future of business travel? According to this Skift article, it could change it significantly. Imagine, rather than having to travel to the airport, take a flight and then commute to the city center, you could simply get into a vehicle and work or sleep all the way to your destination. You could arrive well rested and caught up on work, then head off to your meeting.

While we are years away from this becoming a reality everywhere, the possibilities are endless. This is certainly a game-changer even on a small scale.

Virtual Working Environments

Another fascinating development in business travel is the lack of physical traveling we will need to do. After all, why endure the time and expense of travel when you can attend a virtual reality video conference call?

Many companies are already trialing virtual conferencing, which uses virtual reality to allow coworkers to exist within a virtual working environment.  Imagine being able to wear a headset and feel like you are in a conference room with several other colleagues, having a conversation even though in reality you are alone in your offices hundreds of miles away from each other?

This virtual office space can mimic any type of environment and can make it feel as if you are meeting in person. VR meetings can also allow you to work together on a document, draw on a virtual wall together and interact in many other ways.

Of course, virtual reality meetings will likely not replace the physical working environment (especially with Hyperloop and other technologies making physical travel easier). Plus, there’s something about meeting in person that cannot be replaced with technology. Maybe it’s the handshake – who knows!

What are your predictions for the future of business travel?

We don’t have a crystal ball, so we don’t know exactly how business travel will change over the next decade. However, the technologies that are evolving are certainly interesting and they have the potential to transform the way we travel for business.

What do you think will happen in the next 10 years of business travel? We’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments below!

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