Today’s hyper-connected travellers expect flexible business travel programs
Successful programs will focus on the individual traveller – but few corporations are ready to implement
A new research-based report recently published by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) and American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) reveals how the behaviour and priorities of today’s business travellers are evolving. It also explores how corporations can adapt managed travel programs to fulfill the needs and expectations of contemporary business travellers.
The report, entitled Meet the modern business traveller, is based on a research poll of 250 corporate travel managers and buyers. The findings make it clear that the modern business travellers care about quality of life, demand a better work-life balance and expect a personalized business travel experience.
Rising interest in quality of life issues
The report explores how the priorities of modern business travellers are evolving. Nearly half (48 per cent) of travel managers surveyed have seen an increase in work-life balance concerns over the last three years, with a similarly high proportion (42 per cent) seeing an increase in requests by business travellers to combine business and leisure. Others have seen requests to bring a family member on a business trip (28 per cent), or for time in lieu (23 per cent).
While quality of life continues to be a concern for many business travellers, it is not the biggest priority: almost two thirds (65 per cent) of travel managers reported an increase in inquiries about personal safety over the past three years.
Growing appetite for non-traditional travel
Of the 250 corporate travel managers and buyers surveyed, more than three quarters (79 per cent) have seen an increase in the use of app-based ground transportation over the last three years, while almost half (48 per cent) have seen an increase in ride-share services, and 40 per cent in sharing economy accommodation. Over the same period, 34 per cent have seen decreases in the use of premium black cars, and a 24 per cent drop in traditional car hire use.
Flying habits have been changing too: nearly half (49 per cent) report growth in the usage of low-cost carriers (LCCs) alongside a 23 per cent increase in network carriers, which suggests modern travellers are increasingly mixing their standard of air travel.
The challenge for corporations
Many corporations are beginning to adapt travel programs to match the profile of the modern business traveller. Over half those surveyed (54 per cent) have tightened their policy on personal safety, while more than a third (36 per cent) are about to, or are considering, policy changes. Travel managers remain split on sharing economy services: 25 per cent provide sharing economy ground transport options [in policy], while 30 per cent don’t. Just nine per cent offer sharing accommodation, with 59 per cent saying they have no plans to introduce it.
Improved productivity was cited as the main objectives for improving the traveller experience by 39 per cent of survey respondents, while one-quarter said it was key to being an attractive employer. Only 14 per cent said revenue generation was their key objective. But there is evidence that corporations often have a mismatch between key performance indicators (KPIs) and objectives. The majority of travel managers cited savings (90 per cent) as their top KPI, followed by compliance (86 per cent), traveller satisfaction (68 per cent), traveller productivity (30 per cent), traveller wellness (29 per cent), work-life balance (24 per cent), and traveller retention (20 per cent).
The size of the prize: enabling happier, more productive travellers
Commenting on the report’s findings, Philip Haxne, Regional Director EMEA, Global Business Consulting at American Express Global Business Travel, said: “Business travellers, and business travel, have evolved – the days of the road warrior are over. Today, a managed travel policy and program can only really be successful if the emotions, desires and habits of the modern business traveller are understood. Only by adapting to the modern business traveller can businesses attract and retain top talent, while increasing productivity.”
He continued: “To make this a reality, corporations should take advantage of today’s powerful technology to enable choice and personalization in the travel experience.”
Greeley Koch, Executive Director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, said: “Modern business travellers travel for two reasons: to meet their corporate objectives and to support their life’s objectives. For a growing number, the first is meaningless if it doesn’t contribute to the second. Traveller centricity is the link connecting work-life balance, increased traveller performance, and accomplished corporate objectives — without the loss of savings.”