4 ways businesses can save time in business travel and move towards ‘FrictionZero’ travel

Travellers sitting at an airport waiting to embark on their journeys. Picture: Supplied

Travellers sitting at an airport waiting to embark on their journeys. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 28, 2024


According to Corporate Traveller GM Bonnie Smith, when it comes to business travel, gone are the days of tolerating the slow pace of traditional travel inconveniences.

The expert in business travel highlighted that the business travel scene is undergoing a radical transformation where the concept of “waiting” is as outdated as fax machines.

She said that the business travel landscape has entered an era of “FrictionZero” Travel and this shift isn’t just about speeding up the transit process; it mirrors a deeper societal evolution where every second counts and the demand for immediacy pervades every aspect of our lives.

“Today, empowered by technological leaps and a collective re-evaluation of priorities, travellers demand journeys that aren’t just fast – they’re instant, intuitive, and seamlessly integrated into their digital existence.

“FrictionZero travel is the response to this modern requirement, a paradigm where travel nuisances are not just reduced but eradicated,” she said.

Smith said the concept of “FrictionZero travel” stands as a testament to our high-speed demands, ensuring that business travel transforms from a necessary evil into an effortless extension of our interconnected lives.

According to the Corporate Traveller GM, there is a potential for monumental time savings at every turn of the business travel spiral, which is a mission that companies like hers have made their crusade.

Here are four ways businesses can cut time and remove the stress of business travel and move towards FrictionZero travel.

Streamlined planning saves 8–10 hours

Smith highlighted that even the simplest trip today requires patching together flights, hotels, transport and an itinerary across disconnected websites and apps, and with no integrated view, travellers might spend two hours per trip just confirming everything syncs up properly.

She said if you multiply that by your yearly trip load, it amounts to weeks of lost productivity, and therefore empowering your travellers with an online booking platform (OBT) is the way to go.

“Your travellers can book their own travel quickly and within policy. It’s also easy to set up an efficient approvals process that satisfies the needs of your travellers and management,” she said.

Smith said that travellers could finalise trips with a few clicks in under 15 minutes.

“Assuming four trips per year, nearly eight to 10 working hours could be returned. Another friction point and time-waster on business trips is the constant filling in of forms and selecting preferences.

“Filling out the same forms and selecting the same preferences over and over is another drag.

“With automated preferences, travellers stay happy by default. No more picking aisle seats, special meals, gym access – it’s all stored and applied automatically every time,” said Smith.

Supported visa applications shave 10–15 hours

The GM also highlighted that applying for international visas piles on more painful paperwork for pressed business travellers and endless forms, document chasing, health checks, and embassy runs devour productive hours, while surveys suggest the visa scramble burns nearly a full working day for a typical visa.

Smith advised companies to check if their TMC offers visa support services.

“For countries still requiring traditional visas, specialised teams can shave hours off the process by centralising documentation, leveraging verification systems and appointing application agents,” she said.

Smarter travel saves about 5 hours

Smith noted that between check-in, security, immigration, delays, and rental pick-ups, travellers easily kill half a day just moving between points A and B.

She said that one trend in frictionless travel is the adoption of biometrics, such as facial recognition, to replace traditional forms of identification and streamline security checks.

“Conservatively, automated travel functionality probably would save only 30 to 60 minutes per trip. But recovered minutes add up, giving you almost five working hours back yearly,” said Smith.

She explained that the real time and stress-saving hero is emergency assistance when things go sideways.

“Remember when airlines had major computer failures grounding flights globally? Thousands of passengers scrambled to rebook travel as schedules tanked. Hours wasted in customer service queues or on hold,” said the GM.

She said that in such situations, an experienced travel manager can prove invaluable as they quickly assess the situation, leverage relationships and contacts, and spot alternative airports, airlines and back-up solutions while others are still stuck in line.

“Keeping travellers updated with real-time messages is another of those little things that a TMC does to make them feel more at ease and able to focus on what they are doing while away from home,” said Smith.

Optimised financials save 10+ hours

And finally, Smith highlighted that reporting expenses after trips can be a time-consuming exercise, from collecting paper receipts and then manually building reports, and this pointless busywork burns at least three to four hours per trip.

The Corporate Traveller GM pointed out that travel management tech can rescue you from admin hell and that mobile apps capture and categorise expenses on the fly while automated reporting populates cost summaries with one click for manager approval.

“All together, a frictionless approach returns balance for the traveller – with FrictionZero being the goal.

“The hours saved can instead be spent on meaningful work and personal priorities otherwise neglected due to compounding travel admin and disruptions,” said Smith.