Home Business Travel How business travel trends might affect your bottom line in 2018

How business travel trends might affect your bottom line in 2018

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As a general rule, travel moves in slow, easy to predict waves. There are smaller spikes around certain occasions (Easter, Thanksgiving), but for the majority, people travel for leisure around Christmas time and in the summer.

If only business travel was so simple. From different geographies and industries through to the budgets and compliance needs of individual companies, travel managers have a lot to contend with. The trends are not always so cut and dry.

Alongside these factors, the types of traveller also has an impact. Especially those that travel regularly, and those that don’t. When considering frequency of travel, it makes sense that seasoned travellers may lead to different data patterns than those that only travel now and again.

What is clear is that a travel manager has a complex job on their hands, one that needs to be supported by data insights. By taking time to parse data into insights, travel managers get a much clearer picture of their organisation’s own peculiar trends.

Trends in business travel frequency

One such data set is recent research from Concur has showed that there are clear differences between travellers that take one to three, four to six and more than seven trips. This graph gives a clear idea of the results found from last year:

corporate travel

Compared in the table is March (a typical month for business travel), July (the slowest business travel month) and October/November (the busiest months for business travel).

Instantly recognisable is that, during a typical month for travelling, those that only have up to six trips a year are under the average amount of time spent travelling per week. On the other hand, seasoned travellers are above this threshold.

Clearly, seasoned travelers will have more journeys to arrange throughout the year. But this could also point to a knowledge of travelling during less busy periods, which makes for more economical travel costs for the company. In fact, those experienced travellers are the most consistent throughout the year.

Conversely, those that travel the least fluctuate greatly. This cohort follows the wider trends, and actually travel almost 20% more during the busy months and over 10% less during the slow summer period.

While there may be other reasons for this disparity — for example, less frequent travelers might travel mostly to support conferences during busy seasons — this does raise some interesting points when it comes to a businesses travel plan.

Crafting a smart plan for business travel

While it seems that seasoned travellers can generally be left to self-regulate with a near constant flow of trips, those that don’t travel as regularly may spend above the average by travelling in exceptionally busy periods. For instances such as major trade shows this can’t be helped, but there are a number of ways to for TMCs and travel managers to address these issues.

The first of these would be rescheduling of trips to times where travel demand is lowest – and therefore less expensive. It might seem strange to meet with a prospect or client in the middle of holiday season, but if both parties are available and business travel routes are available cheaply, then enjoy that cheaper meeting – and hopefully some good weather!

Secondly, technology can play a huge part in determining what would be the best way in which to travel to a destination. A domestic route by train will fluctuate with demand while the mileage costs expensed by a driver will not. By analyzing the data, companies can compare and contrast the ways in which employees can travel. Balanced with duty of care, this is an exceptionally powerful source of information.

Finally, an important question often not considered by travel mananagers (and perhaps even the travelers themselves): is the trip completely necessary?

There is no doubting the effect that meeting in person can have in comparison to a phone call. We all know that body language, small talk and a genuine connection fuel just as many positive business relationships as the deals themselves. But that phone call is no longer the only option available.

With the wide availability of connectivity now available, a real-time, 4k video stream can combine two meeting rooms in different countries into one. The technology is also available on the move, which encourages travellers to improve the downtime caused by traveling out of the office.

The data is the key to these insights – without the raw numbers available to build and compare the different types of traveller and the frequency of their trips, we would be left in the dark. That is the foundation for a successful, flexible and responsive business travel programme.

By having the visibility into the raw numbers and a system to spot trends within these, travel managers can ensure that they aren’t losing money by being swept up in the tides of travel trends.

 

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