Cutting costs is – once again – the biggest challenge facing business travel buyers, according to a recent survey carried out by Business Travel Show. The poll of 114 European travel buyers also revealed that Brexit stress appears to be subsiding, while sustainability has shot up the agenda.
The pressure to reduce corporate travel spend, which has led the table for four out of the last five years, giving way only once – in 2018 – to Brexit, is now back on top of the challenge chart.
After taking the top spot last year, Brexit returns in third place ahead of ‘appointing a new TMC’, its second consecutive appearance on the table (last year it was eighth). ‘Enforcing compliance’ has also powered back for 2019 after a year-long absence with buyers voting it number two.
Travel manager Jef Robinson claims its compliance keeps him awake at night, specifically, ‘influencing traveller behaviour in changing times.’
“Changing behaviour would result in a more robust and efficient programme with better suppliers,” he said. “Many travellers do not wish to move from their comfort zones, or use of current preferred suppliers, despite medium/long term benefits.”
Perhaps the biggest news is that ‘sustainability’ has finally made its debut on the poll, albeit at number nine; a reflection of the stratospheric rise in awareness and the powershift in action directed at halting and reversing climate change.
‘Climate change’ (first place), ‘travel alternatives’ (sixth) and ‘sustainability’ (ninth) all appeared on the list of challenges facing the travel industry as a whole.
Jef Robinson also believes it is possible – ‘to a degree’ – to have an ethical travel programme, which would include: “Reducing non-essential travel where it can be easily replaced by other forms of engagement; enhanced planning and analytics relating to internal business travel. For example, team meetings, quarterly business reviews, and prioritising ethical suppliers that have robust ethical/environmental programmes and eliminating the worst offenders/suppliers.”