"Technology, such as mobile devices, is reshaping both the travelers’ experience and travel manager’s role in simultaneously supporting traveler needs and corporate objectives,” said Christophe Peymirat, senior vice president, Egencia EMEA & APAC.
Commenting on a new report for Europe by the GBTA Foundation, the research arm of the Global Business Travel Association, and Egencia, the corporate travel arm of Expedia, Inc, Peymirat said: “We set out to understand how travel professionals can better manage travel policy to make sure their travelers have the important information they need to deal with travel details without losing site of policy compliance.”
The study shows that travel professionals are playing an increasingly large and influential role in shaping and controlling business travel policy, aided by online booking tools and fueled by a growing focus on cost-saving efforts.
“Travel professionals play a vital role in balancing the need to get travelers on the road to make the face-to-face connections that strengthen business ties while also spending corporate dollars wisely,” said Paul Tilstone, managing director of GBTA Europe. “This study shows travel managers are 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 Europe, North America, 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 majority of travel professionals worldwide (60%) indicate that they have more control over travel policy compared to a few years ago.
Top 10 Most Important Definitions of Travel Policy Control: When travel professionals in Europe were asked to describe what “control” over travel policy means for them, three in five (64%) selected “driving savings and controlling costs.” In addition, the report revealed the top ten most important definitions of travel policy control, worldwide and across key regions.
Compared to a few years ago, the study says, large majorities of travel professionals in Europe agree they now have more control over travel spend data (76%), reporting (69%), and visibility in the organization (73%). When asked why they have more control over travel policy, travel professionals said:
· Access to traveller profile information and data security (69%)
· Stronger support from C-level executives (65%)
· Having a broader role in their company (63%)
Mobile and Social Media Changing the Game: In Europe, travel professionals are using mobile phones and social media to keep in touch with travelers and improve the travel experience. In fact, 62 percent indicated that they stay connected with travelers to let them know they’re watching out for them. Other findings:
· Social media use amongst travelers is less prevalent, with only 35 percent using 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.
· This is a notably smaller percentage than in North America and Asia, where travelers reported using social media more actively (48 percent and 51 percent, respectively).
Despite the relatively low usage number, there is still need for improvement when it comes to educating travelers on travel policy. For example, only 14 percent of travel professionals in Europe integrate information into mobile booking tools.
Technology Improving Policy Compliance: Technology used for trip planning, booking and data is paramount to providing managers with better insights and more control to improve travel policy, the study says.
Over the years, travel policy has advanced in lockstep with technology improvements. In fact, 76 percent of respondents in Europe 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, according to the report.
Online booking tools (OBTs) have been instrumental to travel policy improvements. Travel managers in Europe report 71 percent of travelers use OBTs to book travel. Other conclusions:
· Nearly half of travel professionals in Europe (51%) are integrating more information into OBTs to educate road warriors about staying within policy.
· The compliance rate of travelers using approved corporate booking channels in Europe is 80 percent, indicating that technology has become an essential tool to create and implement effective policy.