Tools engineered for the end user are not only more effective – they’re essential for post-Covid travel
In their recently published white paper, travel industry researchers and analysts, PhocusWire, present a fascinating insight into the current trends of business travel management following the pandemic and the invaluable role technology has to play in ensuring its success.
Our own head of Gray Dawes Consulting, Aman Pourkarimi, has studied the report (so you don’t have to) and below presents the key takeaways, along with his own recommendations for UK businesses.
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As the pandemic recovery continues and companies return to travel, many businesses are seizing the opportunity to modernize their corporate travel management technology. But while a sophisticated and secure tech stack is essential, technology alone isn’t enough.
When planning for the next phase of corporate travel, businesses need to understand their travel program’s objectives and—in order to meet them—seek out technology built from the ground up, with a sense of purpose baked in. When intention drives the creation of every technical feature, businesses can unlock the full potential of corporate travel management technology and have the best chance of success.
An effective technology solution will be meticulously designed to help clients and end users achieve key goals, such as business efficiency and cost savings; employee safety, productivity and happiness; and environmental awareness and protection. In the post-COVID world, these goals will be even more urgent—and technology focused on meeting these goals is a crucial part of the puzzle.
The corporate travel market in 2020 saw deeper contraction compared to the overall travel market, with gross bookings dropping 71% to $39 billion.
Corporate travel gross bookings are projected to reach $121 billion by 2024, representing 91% of the market’s 2019 value.
But as businesses seek to control costs and meet duty of care responsibilities, they will rely on digital tools to help, by pushing travellers toward in-policy channels.
An effective technology solution will be meticulously designed to help clients and end users achieve key goals, such as business efficiency and cost savings; employee safety, productivity and happiness; and environmental awareness and protection.
The dynamics of the recovery period will accelerate the shift online.
In 2020, the ratio of online bookings to offline bookings mirrored 2019, at 80% online and 20% offline. Through 2021 and 2022, however, online bookings are expected to grow to 83% and 84% of overall bookings respectively. That ratio improves to 85% by 2023.
Duty of Care
More than six in 10 travel managers indicated a vaccine is necessary for business travel to resume (see table). But there is also increased focus on contactless technology and corporate responsibility to keep travelers safe. While just 13% said the ability to track travellers at all times is a prerequisite for a return to business travel.
Vaccines are most important for business travel to resume
A technology feature like destination blocking, for example, allows companies to respond to changing conditions and adjust policy in real time.
Yet compliance remains a key challenge for many corporate travel programs. Only three in 10 corporate travel managers report a compliance rate over 90% for air, car and hotel, respectively (see Figure 4). But many others struggle to get compliance above 30%, especially for hotel and car rental bookings. Roughly three in 10 companies have compliance below 30% for hotel and car rental bookings, with four in 10 reporting the same low compliance for air.
Compliance remains a challenge
Expense management systems are the most commonly used strategy for driving compliance (see table). Four in 10 companies penalize travellers for not using the mandated expense management tool, while three in 10 enact penalties for booking outside of the preferred channel.
Expense Management systems have a higher likelihood of being used for driving compliance
While vaccines and traveler safety are prerequisites for recovery, the top strategic priority for managed travel programs is increasing cost savings (see table).
For many companies, budgets remain tight, and travel managers are focused on saving money and proving their program’s effectiveness. Half of travel managers ited cost savings as being among the top three priorities for their company’s managed travel programme. These goals are often present from year to year, but the recovery period is shrinking the margin of error and putting increased pressure on travel managers to deliver.
Cost Control remains a top strategic priority for Travel Managers
Focus on cost savings is also evident in corporate travel programs’ technology wish lists (see table). A desire to automate trip-related expense capture is the top priority for technology investment, with 45% of corporate travel managers including it among their top three tech goals. here is a growing understanding that incentivising travellers’ behaviour is beneficial in boosting their satisfaction and driving compliance; one third of travel managers want to introduce a reward/incentive program for compliance.
Gray Dawes Consulting is an impartial, in-house team of experienced travel data experts who combine 90 years’ experience, market-leading tools and analytics to drive corporate travel booking efficiencies, cost savings and traveller satisfaction.
Adopting a tried and tested methodology of 28 Key Performance Indicators, the work of Consulting Manager, Aman Pourkarimi, and his team typically saves clients an average of 22% on their annual business travel spend. We are the first travel management company to offer a unique service which specialises in the SME / Mid Market space.
For a free consultation and to discuss your own travel policy planning, please get in touch.
To help you navigate the changes of business travel, we’ve created the brand-new Traveller Toolkit. This invaluable online resource is packed full of easy-to-use guides and checklists for every stage of every journey. We detail exactly what you need to know and do before, during and after your trip in a post-pandemic, post Brexit world.
You can even check the travel restrictions and health status of your destination with our comprehensive COVID-19 Country Tracker, updated five times daily to ensure you have the very latest information to help keep you and your travellers safe.
Travel is changing. With common sense and a good TMC behind you, travellers can have the confidence to once again take to the skies. It’ll soon be back business as (un)usual.