Aided by online booking tools and fueled by a growing focus on cost-saving efforts, travel professionals are playing an increasingly large and influential role in shaping and controlling business travel policy, according to a new report by the GBTA Foundation, the research arm of the Global Business Travel Association and Egencia, the corporate travel arm of Expedia, Inc.
“Travel professionals are the linchpin of corporate travel,” said Joe Bates, GBTA Foundation senior director of research. “What we see from this study is that travel professionals are being recognized within their organizations for the value they provide and are therefore gaining more control over budgets to help contain costs and ensure that road warriors can be as effective as possible.”
This third annual study, “Travel Policy Trends: ‘Control’ – What Does it Mean and Who Has It”, surveyed nearly 1,500 travel professionals in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America to determine, for the first time ever, what “control” over travel policy means to them and how travel professionals are adapting to new and evolving business travel requirements. The GBTA concludes that the majority of travel professionals (60%) indicate that they have more control over travel policy compared to a few years ago.
“With a rapidly evolving technology landscape and customer choice continuing to impact companies, we thought it essential to better understand the changing face of travel policy control,” said Mark Hollyhead, senior vice president, Egencia, Americas. “The travel ecosystem as we know it today needs to take into account many consumer driven factors such as mobility and social media without losing sight of policy compliance and cost control.”
When travel professionals were asked to describe what “control” over travel policy means for them, three in five (61%) selected “driving savings and controlling costs.”
Compared to a few years ago, large majorities of travel professionals agree they now have more control over travel spend data (72%), reporting (72%), and visibility in the organization (70%). When asked why they have more control over travel policy, travel professionals said:
· Stronger support from C-level executives (68%)
· Having a broader role in their company (66%)
· Access to traveler profile information and data security (65%)
GBTA also said travel professionals are increasingly using mobile phones and social media to keep in touch with travelers and improve the traveler experience. About two-thirds (65%) indicated that they stay connected with travelers to let them know they’re watching out for them.
· 45 percent say their travelers use social media channels or mobile device apps in their daily travels to connect with other road warriors and quickly find information they need while on the road.
However, there is still room for improvement, GBTA reports. When it comes to educating travelers on travel policy, only 18 percent of travel professionals integrate information into mobile booking tools.
Technology used for trip planning, booking and data is key to providing managers with better insights and more control to improve travel policy, GBTA says. Over the years, travel policy has advanced in lockstep with technology improvements. In fact, 72 percent of respondents agreed that they have more travel spend data and improved reporting tools today compared with a few years ago, providing more information to find gaps in compliance and bolster their ability to negotiate with suppliers.
Online booking tools (OBTs) have been instrumental to travel policy improvements. Three in four travelers (75%) use OBTs to book travel.
· More than half of travel professionals (54%) are integrating more information into OBTs to educate road warriors about staying within policy.
· The compliance rate of travelers using approved corporate booking channels is 79 percent, indicating that technology has become an essential tool to create and implement effective policy.