Global business travel and spend report reveals new sharing economy trends, business traveller behaviour

Concur releases industry-first insights: who’s booking US$76 billion in business travel spend?

Concur, the world’s leading provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions, has released its innovative State of Business Travel 2016 report at the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) convention. In the report, Concur delivers a comprehensive look at where and how business travellers are spending. With business travel rapidly changing, and travel and expense representing the second-largest area of controllable business spend, the insights in this report will allow companies to better design their travel and spend policies, which in turn influences their bottom line.

Concur analyzed business travel booking and expense reporting data from its database of more than 40 million users, representing more than US$76 billion in annual spend. By presenting this mass of data in the context of six business traveller personas – a first in the industry – Concur makes this information more relevant and actionable for companies.

Meet the personas:

  • Savvy Sam is a power traveller who travels 40 per cent of the time, taking approximately 25 trips per year.
  • Jet Setter Jeremy is typically a C-suite executive who travels frequently, preferring to fly first-class and stay at five-star hotels.
  • High-tech Hannah is a young millennial who travels once a quarter, often combining personal and business travel, while staying budget conscious.
  • Approving Manager Alan doesn’t travel much himself, but is responsible for approving travel and expense reports and keeping budgets in line.
  • Travel Arranger Tanya books for others and files expense reports for teammates several times a week.
  • Cautious Carl travels just once or twice a year for business. He typically plans far in advance and isn’t familiar with policies and process.

“Concur’s State of Business Travel report transforms data from endless pages of dull numbers into relatable and understandable characters,” said Henry Harteveldt, founder and industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group. “The personas make planning and administering business travel programs easier, more accessible, more relatable, and more useful for travel managers and financial decision makers.”

Business traveller behaviours

The State of Business Travel report confirms that not all business travellers are created equal. In some cases, a company may want to tailor its travel policy to account for the unique needs of its travellers, from frequent flyers and road warriors to once-a-year travellers.

More than half of all business travellers are “Cautious Carls,” but Carls account for only 14 per cent of total business travel spend.

“High-tech Hannahs” and “Cautious Carls” care more about price than other types of travellers, while “Savvy Sams” and “Jet Setter Jeremys” (who contribute to 46 per cent of total business travel spend) are more concerned with comfort and convenience.

When it comes to air travel, “Jet Setter Jeremys” consistently spend the most because they are more likely to book at the last minute and opt for premium seats.

“Managing travel and expense is becoming increasingly complex, between integration with mobile technology, nuances in traveller preferences, and new travel supplier strategies,” said Robb Nielsen, vice president of global product experience at Concur. “This demands a fully connected travel and expense ecosystem paired with actionable insights, giving travel managers the visibility and control they need to drive cost savings.”

Sharing economy on the rise

While it’s no surprise home-sharing services like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway are increasing in popularity among business travellers, Concur data indicates a dramatic 56 per cent growth in usage from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016. On average, business travellers stay five nights when home sharing, compared to three nights when staying at a traditional hotel.

Meanwhile, Atmosphere Research Group data from 2015 shows that eight per cent of U.S. business travellers used home-sharing accommodations at least once on a business trip. According to Harteveldt, this number is expected to approach 10 per cent in 2016 as more companies approve the use of home-sharing services, and home-sharing hosts improve property amenities – such as higher-quality bedding and faster, more reliable Wi-Fi connectivity.

Existing and emerging business travel markets: U.S. vs. China

From conferences, to leadership meetings, to sales trips – business travels take employees to locations far and wide. But different cities come at different costs. In 2015, Concur business travellers spent the most in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco among U.S. cities, while the U.K., Canada, and China took top rankings for spend outside the U.S.

“China’s growth as a business travel market is increasingly driven by Chinese travellers, rather than international visitors to the country,” added Harteveldt. “In fact, Boeing’s Long Term Market Outlook for 2015 to 2034 estimates Chinese airlines will order 6,130 new aircraft (from all manufacturers), or 17 per cent of all new aircraft. The 146,590 hotel rooms under construction in China in May 2016 account for more than 56 per cent of the total hotel rooms being built across Asia, according to Smith Travel Research.”

They spent what, where?

Last year, Concur processed 86 million expense reports, while Concur users booked 46 million flights and expensed 74 million hotel nights, nearly $10 billion in ground transportation, and $12 billion in dining and entertainment. The data led to some surprising facts from 2015:

  • Several Concur log-ins have originated from the International Space Station
  • The single highest line item submitted on an expense report was for $2.2 million
  • Monday, November 30 was the busiest day for expense reports, with 534,669 reports submitted
  • 60 per cent of Concur expense reports are simple, with an average of five line items, and are completed in an average of eight minutes or less
  • 84 people expensed between 360 and 365 hotel days
  • Concur’s busiest one per cent of travellers boarded an average of 146 flights
  • The most expensive car rental expensed was for $31,082 in Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • The most expensive ride sharing transaction was for $27,244 in New York, New York

Click here to learn more and read the full State of Business Travel report.

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