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The transformative landscape of travel supplier experiences

The corporate travel industry is a complex ecosystem with numerous moving parts, each playing a crucial role in ensuring smooth and efficient journeys for business travellers. At the very core of this ecosystem are our valued travel suppliers.

These dedicated entities tirelessly work to facilitate the seamless and efficient movement of travellers, whether flying through the skies, navigating by road or rail, or providing sanctuary for a well-deserved rest after a day’s work. It is through their collective efforts that we witness progress, innovation, and a commitment to meeting the evolving needs of the modern business traveller.

As we mark the 30th anniversary at Corporate Travel Management (CTM) we delve into the changes and advancements that have shaped the way we move, rest, and conduct business on the road. From the early years marked by simplicity and basic functionality to the present era of technological marvels and sustainability initiatives, the journey reflects the resilience and foresight of our valued travel suppliers.

Read on to hear from some of CTM’s travel partners, Delta Air Lines, IHG Hotels & Resorts and Enterprise Mobility, on how the travel supplier landscape continues to evolve to meet your travel needs.


How customer values have shaped travel products and services

Good service, reliability and basic amenities may have been paramount 30 years ago; however, travel supplier products and services have evolved at speed alongside the change in customer values and expectations, mirroring the rapid change in the corporate travel industry. The emergence of the internet shifted traveller expectations towards speed, control, instant access to information and 24/7 connectivity. “Customers value convenience, personalisation, sustainability, and seamless experiences more than ever before, seeking holistic experiences aligned with their personal values and lifestyle,” says Mel Bell, Global Account Director, IHG Hotels & Resorts.

When we look at what has inspired the evolution of travel products and services over the years, customer feedback has been at the forefront of these transformations. Melissa McLaughlin, Multi National Account Manager, Delta Air Lines explains, “Delta’s mission of listen, act, listen, has not only led to the introduction of products and services to make our customers’ lives easier but also fostered a culture of feedback for businesses.”

Similarly, the team at Enterprise Mobility has a culture of listening and learning, which allows them to evolve and advance mobility solutions. At a time when rental cars were largely serviced from airports, Enterprise Mobility listened to their customers and realised that they wanted better access to mobility near where they lived and worked. Olly Moore – Enterprise Mobility Director of Travel Agency Sales, EMEA shares “We have built a business that is centered in the communities where we operate to provide shared vehicles when and where people need them. Our focus on building meaningful partnerships, like our collaboration with CTM, enables us to deliver enhanced solutions to our customers that benefit both the business traveller and their employer.”

What’s remained consistent and what are the game changers?

Whether it be air, hotel or car, the importance and value placed on delivering exceptional customer service has remained paramount for travel suppliers. Regardless of technological advancements or shifting customer preferences, the emphasis on personalised service, attention to detail, and ensuring continued guest satisfaction is key, says Bell. McLaughlin adds, “Safety and strong operational performance have always remained at the centre of everything we do at Delta.”

Suppliers like Enterprise Mobility have services that were implemented in the ‘90s that are still offered today. Moore tells the story of a local Enterprise Mobility Branch Manager unveiling the initiative to provide customers with a free ride to their chosen car rental location, with the tagline “We’ll pick you up.” Today, this service still exists and, as mobility has evolved, this has transformed from what was considered a premium experience to an expected service by its customers.


Game changers

The advent of technology, particularly the internet and mobile connectivity, has been the biggest game changer. According to Bell, this transformation has made access to information easier, streamlined booking processes, and empowered hotel guests to tailor their travel experiences according to their preferences. Bell also explains the rise of boutique and niche hotels has diversified the accommodation landscape, offering unique and immersive experiences to travellers.

The introduction of Wi-Fi transformed the in-flight experience, empowering travellers to reclaim their valuable time. McLaughlin explains, “Whether travellers want to stay up to date on their work in real-time or sit back and watch entertainment curated just for them, streaming quality connectivity has enabled travellers to enjoy their flight at their own pace. The combination of productivity and leisure extends the efficiency of our office spaces and the comfort of our living rooms to 30,000 feet.”

Electric vehicles have been revolutionary for a more sustainable future. About 39% of the Enterprise Car Club fleet in the UK consists of electric or hybrid vehicles, allowing drivers to choose low or zero-emission mobility options. Moore comments, “Navigating this transition to electrification will have its challenges, which is why our top focus is the overall customer experience, not just the vehicle. We’re focused on the details of the customer journey and the details of operating an electric fleet across our diverse mobility lines.”

Balancing technology innovation with personal touch

For IHG Hotels & Resorts, technology and data have revolutionised the hotel guest experience by enabling personalised recommendations, streamlined check-in/out processes, and anticipatory service delivery. Data-driven insights allow them to better understand guest preferences, anticipate customer needs and enhance overall satisfaction. Bell explains, “We strive to strike a balance between technological innovation and maintaining a personal touch in guest interactions. While technology enhances operational efficiency and convenience, human connection remains at the heart of hospitality.”

Enterprise Mobility has a growing fleet of connected cars, which is another way they’re investing in innovative technology that gives customers more control and a seamless experience. Moore shares, “Connected vehicles can automate tasks, such as checking fuel levels and mileage, eliminating the need for a rental representative to get in the car and making the check-in and check-out processes more efficient.”

While some customers may embrace new technology, others still value in-person interaction more and want to be able to ask questions or see the vehicle for reassurance. Enterprise’s growing network of locations in over 90 countries is strategically placed in neighbourhoods where people live and work. This allows the business to bring mobility solutions to the end user, either in person or remotely via ‘virtual fleets’ that are accessible 24/7.

Elevating the traveller’s experience through technology is a major goal for Delta Air Lines, and according to McLaughlin she expects most customers to have access to fast, free Wi-Fi by the end of 2024 and expects select remaining regional and international routes will come online into 2025. Further, Delta Sync uses the power of connectivity to provide even more value to customers. Today, Delta Sync Wi-Fi and Delta Sync seatback are two industry-leading entertainment products that seamlessly integrate with SkyMiles membership and the Fly Delta app to create the ultimate personalised experience in the sky. McLaughlin says over the next few years, Delta will be rolling out additional Delta Sync products that will enable a more elevated and meaningful customer experience.

“These experiences are creating strong customer loyalty. As customers deepen their relationship with Delta, we can understand and serve them better, with more seamless journeys, proactive and flexible care and memorable interactions throughout,” shares McLaughlin.

Sustainability - Green initiatives and eco-friendly practices.

Delta Air Lines believes in connecting people to a more sustainable future of travel and has made significant strides in integrating sustainability into its business model. In 2023, Delta secured over 50 Corporate Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) deals to help customers meet their sustainability goals; they also reduced single-use plastics onboard by nearly 5 million pounds annually and introduced sustainable alternatives like bamboo cutlery and recycled bedding. The airline is testing initiatives including introducing paper cups onboard and has deployed electric Ground Support Equipment (GSE) across its network with its Salt Lake City and Boston hubs nearing 100% core GSE electrified. Gate agents have ceased automatic printing of pre-departure and departure documents, saving approximately 70 million pages annually, which equates to roughly 4,000 trees.

Enterprise CarShare and Enterprise Car Club operate shared mobility programs in North America, France, Spain and Germany, as well as the U.K. and Ireland. Both brands offer flexible alternatives to individual vehicle use for businesses. Moore provided some insight into the program, stating that one of their customers in the UK was able to decrease the number of shared cars by one-third. These vehicles were replaced with low and zero-emission cars that are available for employees to use on an as-needed basis. In addition to adopting eco-friendly practices, the company is also committed to supporting the communities in the areas where they operate. This is achieved through promoting volunteer work, empowering employees to give back, and funding programs that address social inequality, provide humanitarian aid and support the environment.

Sustainability and eco-friendliness are integral to the IHG Hotels & Resorts product and service evolution. They prioritise eco-friendly practices such as energy efficiency, waste reduction, and responsible sourcing to minimise their environmental footprint while offering guests sustainable choices during their stay. Beyond eco-friendly practices, Bell explains, “We support sustainability goals by engaging in community initiatives, promoting local economies, and collaborating with partners committed to environmental conservation. Additionally, we invest in renewable energy solutions and actively seek innovative ways to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Looking to the future – what’s the next big thing?

Whilst we would all love to dust off the crystal ball to see what the future will hold; we can have an educated guess based on current trends.

The way customers access mobility will continue to change and evolve. Moore predicts that offering choice, flexibility and access will remain among the top needs when travelling for business or pleasure. Moore also adds, “Technology is rapidly advancing mobility, transforming the way we interact with customers, optimise operations, and support sustainability efforts. By integrating technology with human interaction, we can create meaningful personalised experiences, foster strong partnerships and provide unique insights that drive the future of mobility.”

Sustainability will certainly continue to be a focal point for airlines in the future. “Reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 while delivering elevated, sustainable travel experiences defines our path forward,” says McLaughlin.

Bell anticipates the continued integration of smart technology to enhance hotel guest experiences, such as voice-activated assistants, virtual reality tours, and seamless integration of AI-driven services. Moreover, sustainability will become increasingly paramount, driving the adoption of green technologies, carbon-neutral operations, and eco-conscious travel options. “As consumer preferences evolve, we remain committed to staying ahead of trends and delivering exceptional experiences that exceed expectations.”

Want to learn more about CTM’s preferred travel partners?

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