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Is Choice More Important to Corporate Travelers?

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American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) released the latest findings from its ongoing modern corporate traveler research series developed in conjunction with the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE Global).

Results show an increasingly fragmented marketplace in the travel space that offers more choice than ever, but that is making it difficult for travel managers to balance sensitive travel policy with the flexibility that employees want.

The study, “Balancing Business Travel Tools & Policy for the Traveller Experience,” revealed the desire for quality of life and autonomy on the road is continuing to grow.

Previous research, conducted in October 2017, found that 31 percent of business travelers were looking for increased autonomy on the road and, now, that number has quickly ticked up to 37 percent.

“Business travel can be exhausting and stressful, but pursuing a collaborative process can go a long way toward supporting healthy, rested and productive employees,” said Greeley Koch, executive director, ACTE Global.

“You never want to lock your travelers into strenuous itineraries and overly-strict policies. A two-way dialogue that addresses both employee and employer requirements, however, can actually help all parties meet their objectives. In this case, compromise need not leave both sides unhappy,” added Koch.

Calls for new, high-tech travel management solutions are what employees are looking for the most. Nearly two-thirds of travel managers, 61 percent, say more travelers are asking for improved tech access.

Younger organizations are setting the industry standard in regards to tech tools, booking standards and choice for business travelers. Organizations with a majority of staff under the age of 40 seem more willing to adopt tech-savvy and tech-forward procedures and to offer more flexibility in booking, according to the study.

“The entire business travel experience inherently takes people outside of their comfort zones by forcing travelers to relinquish some control, especially when compared to how people travel for leisure,” said Evan Konwiser, vice president, digital traveler at American Express GBT.

“This research reinforces the importance of travel managers having frequent interaction and communication with travelers to address company expectations and tools available, mitigating the risk of poor experiences and out-of-policy bookings,” Konwiser added.

Additional findings indicate that 38 percent of travel managers believe their program suffers because travelers do not have access to non-GDS content.

Travelers also perceive travel as slightly safer now than a year ago. Inquiries about personal safety have shrunk from 51 percent to 46 percent year-over-year, however, geopolitical tensions, devastating natural disasters and an increasingly complex web of travel security policies continue to exist.

Results also showed that employees have improved access to safety training. Forty percent of organizations have introduced improved traveler training in the last six months.

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