State of Corporate Housing: 2023 Outlook
Published By Peggy Smith January 26, 2023
Global mobility and corporate housing professionals may be entering 2023 feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland, when she asked The Cheshire Cat which way she should go.
"That depends on where you want to end up," the cat replied.
And so, it is with the outlook for corporate housing, as businesses seek to choose the right path amongst a backdrop of uncertainty. Should companies use the pre-pandemic 2019 environment to project into this post-pandemic world? Will 2023 bring a major recession, a minor economic hiccup, or a smooth ride? Will the battle for talent ease, or will we continue to struggle to fill that pipeline?
Unlike Alice, most organizations are clear on where they want to end up: economically viable for the short-term environment while investing in the world around them through sustainability efforts. As you develop your talent strategies for 2023, here are some concepts to help you position well for the uncertainties and the opportunities ahead and thrive in the coming year.
Leverage AI to Elevate Customer Experience
Artificial intelligence, AI, has come of age. In just the past five years, at least half of global businesses say they are using AI in at least one way. Most common, says McKinsey & Company, is the use of such things as robotic process automation and virtual agents and conversational interfaces. In relocation management, that means the ability to move toward more self-serve capabilities.
So, where does that leave their customer experience? AI has upped the ante of customer expectation. Because of it, your customers have now come to expect service-oriented companies like yours to “know” their needs automatically and pre-emptively serve up solutions to their next need. The reality is that today’s customers expect companies to know “who I am and what I need/want.”
A recent AirINC study found that while 31% of traveling employees surveyed prefer a full-service support model, only 8% are attracted by a completely self-service approach. Between these two extremes, 61% of employees want a hybrid solution.
Travel managers and corporate housing professionals in 2023 will be expected to deliver the high-touch experiences with customized convenience that speak directly to customer’s preferences.
At National, we are investing in solutions that address our client needs efficiently. Over the past year, we initiated a comprehensive evaluation of our technology stack. We examined how we work, refined our processes to allow more time for customer experience and reduced time on administrative workload. We shifted processes to be more targeted and deliberate from how we pursue business to the systems our frontline teams need, and enabled automation to achieve more efficiency. We are investing in technology to align customer journeys, target ideal customers, and modify how we engage customers with personas, metaphors, and archetypes.
Make it easy for your customers and partners to connect with you. AI coupled with the traditional modes of communication provide plenty of tools. Every interaction with your company is personal, and every individual has preferred ways for those interactions. Those preferences can change in different circumstances. For example an employee encountering issues settling into their new temporary housing, likely wants an immediate high-touch response, not a chat bot, an annoying phone cue or a scripted email response 24 hours later. A remote employee’s spouse seeking suggestions for local schools might, appreciate a thoughtful email response sharing links and contacts.
As entrepreneur Thomas Mineri writes in Forbes, “communications is marketing insurance. If you are going to spend money on branding and advertising, then make sure leads are managed properly. The first step to achieving this is to streamline the methods by which prospects can connect with you.”
Winning the Future
As solutions architect and author Saji Ijiyemi once said, “You can't predict the future, but you can plan for it.” The year ahead is likely to bring economic volatility, geopolitical unrest, and hyper-focus on climate change.
This year’s global business travel projections appear to put COVID squarely in the rearview mirror. A 2022 year-end survey by Morgan Stanley found that despite higher airfares and room rates, many companies’ travel expenditures already are back to pre-COVID levels, with more growth on the way.
“Most interesting is that nearly half of the respondents expect 2023 budgets to increase versus 2019 overall. And of those that expect an increase in budgets, the majority believe 2023 budgets will be between 6% to 10% higher than 2019,” says Ravi Shanker, an equity analyst covering North American transportation.
Expect to see extended business travel become a mainstay in mobility’s toolbox. Even though a recent AIRINC study showed more than four out of five employees said they were interested in global transfers, location and type of opportunity will weigh heavily on their willingness to move. Its expected extended business travel will fill gaps left by more traditional assignments.
When strong winds are headed to a boat harbor, sailors don’t wait until they arrive to tighten the lines. Likewise, as the post-COVID winds behind mobility begin to shift and strengthen, now is the time for businesses to shore up their operations.
Is your staff cross-trained and fully equipped to provide the high-touch, high-efficiency hybrid service your travelers expect? When was the last time you audited the organization’s standard operating procedures (do staff even know where they exist?)? If you haven’t already, make efficiency and cost containment priorities.
Whatever path your corporate travel strategy takes this year, National’s seasoned experts stand ready to help. Our unique business model of high-touch customer service with customized housing solutions has been delighting corporate travelers and global mobility teams since 1999. Learn more at nationalcorporatehousing.com.
About the Author
Peggy Smith | Chief Innovation Officer
During her 10-year stint as President and CEO of Worldwide ERC®, the workforce mobility association, Peggy extended the reach of the organization around the world and fostered the organization’s evolution into a content-rich community for talent management and mobility. Subsequent industry positions (executive roles in Shyft and CapRelo, and focused consulting collaborations) further honed her expertise in entrepreneurial settings, strategic innovation, and organizational development. Peggy holds a BA in Marketing from Seattle University, has guest-lectured on talent mobility at Georgetown University and Seattle University, and is a contributing writer to the NACE Foundation. Peggy also serves on the Strategic Advisory Council for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies. She is a member of SHRM Executive Network, Lake Washington Human Resource Association, and Seattle SHRM chapter.