ACTE studies find room for improvement in corporate travel policies

Two research studies from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives focus on the need for both flexibility and simplification in travel management.

The first study, titled “Managing the Modern Business Traveler” and underwritten by American Express Global Business Travel, indicates that travel managers are striving for a balance between a more “traveler-considerate” approach to the development of policies and programs and the need to improve compliance levels.

Travelers’ expectations are changing, the study says, and a “one-size-fits-all” approach to travel policy may result in travelers looking outside the normal channels when they book their travel — the opposite of the desired effect.

The study encourages travel managers to tap into travelers’ point of view to encourage them to do the right thing.

Some subtle psychology may help: 87% of travel managers say they use or are considering using visual guilt to influence users to reconsider travel purchases if a more cost-effective option is available.

Almost as many travel managers – 85% — harness the power of peer pressure and corporate culture to guide travelers.

Travel managers also are reporting that quality-of-life issues are increasingly at the forefront of travelers’ minds: 31% say enquiries about such issues have increased, while 30% say more travelers are asking about adding leisure components to their trips.

Travel managers say they are working to take some of the friction out of business travel by providing travelers with new tools, such as mobile apps for booking (89%) and for travel and expense reporting (81%).

They are also incorporating non-traditional accommodations: 22% say they are including included so-called sharing economy lodging options in their policies, up from 9% a year ago.

The second study, titled “Simplifying Managed Travel” and underwritten by HRS, found that the long-held desire for simpler policies and programs faces heavy competition from other priorities.

Simplification is rated a key priority by 72% of travel managers, but it trails duty of care (94%), cost reduction (88%), data security (84%) and improved traveler satisfaction (75%).

The irony, according to ACTE executive director Greeley Koch, is that simplification can help to achieve those other objectives.

For example, 47% of travel managers say that simplification will improve duty of care, and 39% believe it will reduce the overall cost of their travel policies.

While simplification is a key route for travel managers to achieve their business objectives, travel managers face limited resources and differing levels of support from internal and external stakeholders.

Managers need to ramp up communication with suppliers, with other departments within the organization and with the travelers themselves.


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