New research calls travel managers to take traveller-considerate approach

The new norms of always-on connectivity, personalisation, and support has seen business people expect a simpler and more flexible experience when travelling on behalf of their employers. A study, Managing the Modern Business Traveller, from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), underwritten by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), reveals that travel managers are taking a more traveller-considerate approach to developing travel policies and programmes to retain and improve compliance levels.

Influencing traveller behaviour is integral to upping compliance: 87% of travel managers use or consider using visual guilt, in order to prompt users to consider more cost-effective options; 85% guide travellers by means of peer pressure and corporate culture.

Greeley Koch, executive director, ACTE, says: “Business travellers now  expect a personalised experience, but many organisations still take a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to travel policy, driving travellers to work outside the normal channels. Travel managers should consider the traveller’s point of view in order to encourage them to do the right thing.”

The research shows that traditional measures of ensuring compliance remain education (93%); mandated compliance (77%); and rewards and incentives, monetary (17%) and not (20%).  

“The needs of the business and the desires of today’s business traveller are often different, but we have to rise to the challenge of finding a programme balance that supports both,” says Philip Haxne, regional director EMEA, Global Business Consulting for GBT. “Advances in technology and the managed travel toolset make matching individual needs with the business policy more efficient, and there is great opportunity to better personalise traveller experiences, ease anxieties about safety and simultaneously encourage policy compliance.”

Quality of life focus

Managers continue to see an increase in quality-of-life enquiries from travellers. Enquiries about work-life balance were seen by 30% of travel managers, whereas 30% say they have received more requests about adding leisure to a business trip.

As a result of heightened expectations surrounding work-life balance, the trend of exploring non-traditional, and therefore possibly out-of-policy travel and accommodation methods remains. Nearly 80% of managers saw growth in usages of services like Uber last year, and this year 50% saw non-traditional means of ground transport grow. Alternative accommodation options have likewise seen an increase, with up to 20% of managers noticing an increase in this trend this year.

Enhancing and simplifying policies and tools

Travel managers are responding to the needs of the business traveller by adjusting policies and addressing the state of the corporate travel toolbox so that it may include travel preferences. The inclusion of apps is on the rise, with 93% of managers using, or planning to use, trip information apps, 89% providing apps for booking and 81% offering T&E apps. This has seen a marked increase since last year.

The modern business traveller perspective

The constant evolving of the business traveller’s expectations means that travel managers must find ways to gain insights into the wants and needs to the traveller. 90 % of managers use TMC travel and spend data, 76% card payment providers, 66% use internal systems coupled with TMC analysis, and 60% assess internal policy and compliance data.

Koch says: “It’s not enough to gather the data; managers must actually analyse it and translate it into action. A successful, data-driven travel programme can achieve any corporate travel executive’s core objectives: positioning their travellers for success, while also demonstrating the travel manager’s value as a business leader.”

“A successful travel programme can serve as an effective tool when it comes to attracting and retaining talent,” added Haxne. “Strong programmes that contribute to employee happiness and productivity underscore the travel manager’s valuable role to the business as a whole.”

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