Research encourages traveller-considerate approach

Managers are seeing quality-of-life enquiries from travellers increase, according to ACTE study

October 17, 2017
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LONDON—Spurred by new norms of hyper-connectivity, on-demand services, greater personalization and always-on support, business people expect a simpler and more flexible experience when travelling on behalf of their employers.

According to new research from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), underwritten by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), travel managers are taking a more traveller-considerate approach to developing travel policies and programs.

The study, Managing the Modern Business Traveller, reveals how travel managers are addressing the expectations of modern business travellers to adapt and develop travel policy and to retain and improve compliance levels.

Influencing traveller behaviour is an important aspect of this: 87 percent say they use or are considering using visual guilt, prompting users to reconsider travel purchases if a more cost-effective option is available, and 85 percent point to peer pressure and corporate culture to guide travellers.

However, more traditional methods of ensuring policy compliance remain prominent. An overwhelming majority (93 percent) of travel managers say they use education, and just over three-quarters (77 percent) mandate compliance. Other approaches include rewards and incentives, both non-monetary (20 percent) and monetary (17 percent).

Travellers remain focused on quality of life
Managers are seeing quality-of-life enquiries from travellers increase. Thirty-one percent say they’ve experienced more enquiries about work-life balance, while 30 percent say more travellers have asked about adding a leisure element to business trips. This is a slightly slower rate of increase than seen in the October 2016 edition of the study, when traveller enquires about work-life balance and leisure increased 48 percent and 42 percent, respectively.

While the 2016 research found a more dramatic increase in usage, the trend remains clear. As a result of heightened expectations surrounding work-life balance, more business travellers are exploring non-traditional—and potentially out-of-policy—travel and accommodation methods. Last year, 79 percent of managers saw growth in usage of services like Uber and Lyft. This year, half (50 percent) saw usage of non-traditional ground transport grow. The same holds true for accommodation options like Airbnb, with 20 percent of managers seeing traveller usage increase this year, versus 40 percent last year.

Travel managers enhance and simplify policies and tools
Travel managers are responding to the needs of moderare responding to the needs of modern business travellers by adjusting policies and restocking the corporate travel toolbox to keep pace. On policy, managers are acting across the board, such as incorporating non-traditional accommodations. In 2016, just 9 percent of managers included so-called sharing economy lodging options in policy, versus 22 percent this year. On the tools front, apps are on the rise, with 93 percent of managers providing or planning to provide trip information apps, 89 per cent providing apps for booking and 81 percent offering T&E apps. This is up from 76 percent, 67 percent and 62 percent in 2016, respectively.

Gaining modern business traveller perspective
With business traveller expectations evolving for the foreseeable future, travel managers must look for ways to get into the travellers’ mind and understand both their stated and unstated needs. One key method to achieve this is leveraging internal and external data. Ninety percent of managers say they use TMC travel and spend data, 76 percent turn to card payments providers, 66 percent each leverage internal systems and TMC analysis, and 60 percent assess internal policy compliance data.