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Launch of the Evolution of Travel Policy report - AmEx GBT/ACTE

The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) has launched The Evolution of Travel Policy: A Global View on the Future.  Created in partnership with American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), the report surveyed over 350 Corporate Travel Managers around the world to explore the future of travel policy.

A key question for The Evolution of Travel Policy is the balance between savings and service in policy.  Over the last 1 - 2 years, 52% of respondents say savings was the primary driver of their managed travel programme, followed by duty of care (23%) and traveller service (16%).   

Looking ahead, the balance between savings and service is expected to change significantly as Corporate Travel Managers look to traveller behaviour, rather than supplier cost reductions, to drive savings. 84% of respondents say savings will be achieved through demand management and compliance in the next 1 – 2 years.  However, the research suggests the communications tools to drive compliance are often missing: 44% of respondents say they have no formal systems in place for gathering feedback from their travellers.  

While 75% of Corporate Travel Managers surveyed for The Evolution of Travel Policy see improved traveller service as a route to savings, few organisations have measures in place to justify these improvements to procurement or finance leaders.  21% of respondents today use traveller productivity metrics, 9% use work-life balance metrics and just 5% use stress reduction metrics.  However, 12% of Corporate Travel Managers say they plan to introduce stress reduction metrics in the next 1 -2 years.  

Commenting on the findings, Caroline Strachan, Vice President of Global Business Consulting at American Express Global Business Travel, said: “Demand management is the bedrock of a strong managed programme so it’s hugely significant to see that travel managers are embracing the traveller and traveller service.  Clearly, they understand the future’s going to be traveller-centric. What’s less clear, is whether travel managers feel they have the right technology and tools needed to deliver this future.”  

Strachan continued: “Communication is critical for building relationships, engagement and compliance.  The research suggests there’s scope for travel managers to upgrade their communications systems and practice.”  

Metrics are another area for attention identified by Strachan:  “Traveller-centric metrics help travel managers convince their colleagues about the value of service improvements. The research shows progress here – but travel managers should consider how they can better capture the impact of travel on their travellers.”  

Greeley Koch, Executive Director at the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, said, “The Evolution of Travel Policy study confirms a major shift among business travel managers, identifying a stronger emphasis on supporting the traveller in meeting corporate objectives, as opposed to savings alone. The report’s findings are consistent with ACTE’s Traveller Centricity education pillar, which puts the traveller and the traveller’s needs at the heart of policy.”  

Koch pointed out that influencing traveller behavior and supporting the traveller in the field is far more conducive to meeting the primary objective — raising corporate revenue — than savings alone. “While savings remain a key driver, profitability is the objective of business travel.”  

Among the traveller considerations featured in The Evolution of Travel Policy are initiatives for improved traveller service.  Highlights include:
• Pre-trip messaging: 30% of organisations have already deployed these services, and 27% aim to introduce them in the next 1 – 2 years.
• Mobile booking: 29% of organisations have mobile booking today.  A further 30% of Corporate Travel Managers plan to implement within 1 – 2 years
• Mobile Apps for in-trip changes: deployed in just 16% of organisations today, over the next 1 -2 years 31% of Corporate Travel Managers plan to implement

With sharing economy travel options a focus of interest across the travel industry, the research finds lukewarm attitudes among Corporate Travel Managers.  While 13% have included ground transportation sharing options, and a further 13% plan to implement in the next 1 – 2 years, 39% say these options are not even on the agenda.  With accommodation sharing options, 13% have implemented policy, 8% plan to introduce policy in the next 1 – 2 years and over half (56%) rule them out altogether.  

“These figures may be more indicative of a mindset than practical application,” said Koch. He added that ground transportation decisions are often made in the moment by travellers on the road, not by travel managers based in corporate headquarters. “Accommodation decisions are a different and more complex story,” said Koch.

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