< PrevNext > 2021 Business Travel Buyer's Handbook Core Technology & Data Reporting Putting innovation into action as travel returns. By Adam Perrotta / June 17, 2021 / Contact Reporter Share Download ChapterWith travel activity shut down amid the Covid-19 pandemic, corporate travel managers found themselves with an unexpected—and unprecedented—opportunity to devote time and attention to exploring and adopting technological innovation to improve their programs. Presented with that opportunity, suppliers, including specialists and TMCs alike, stepped up to meet the new demand—even as many dealt with their own revenue struggles amid the pandemic—doubling down on research and development to bolster their offerings for post-Covid era. With corporate travel’s return gaining momentum, those innovations are being put into practice. Among the tech-based tools likely to be most prevalent in the short to mid-term are the in-booking-tool virus tracking services that rolled out amid the early phases of the pandemic. Offering functions such as in-booking risk assessment, interactive maps, real-time travel advisories and risk ratings, such platforms will remain necessary as long as the virus lingers to any significant extent—and are likely to continue to be leveraged to assess non-Covid-related risks in the longer term. Digital health passports are sure to be another key tech tool in immediate travel landscape. Designed to certify that a traveler meets the relevant Covid-related entry criteria for a given jurisdiction, several such smartphone-based passports have been developed by a number of different providers using assorted models. Establishing interoperability between the various passports is among the key challenges that remain to be worked out, along with ensuring the privacy and security of users’ personal medical data. Along with the emphasis on duty of care and Covid-related regulatory compliance, many travel and spending managers also are facing increased budgetary pressures and a newfound onus on keeping T&E outlays in line. To help meet those goals, expense providers have rolled out auditing tools designed to increase spending compliance by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate the majority of the auditing process. And with environmental sustainability widely expected to be the next major point of industrywide focus post-Covid, tools that track the carbon emissions from travel— especially within the booking flow—are likely to become a must-have capability for travel buyers, many of whom are on the front lines of implementing their organizations’ sustainability strategies.