Skift Take

It's shocking that more corporate travel managers haven't embraced mobile technology and the sharing economy as ways to reduce costs and gain more accurate data on the habits of their clients.

Business travelers who hope their companies will embrace the sharing economy may have to wait a while.

A new white paper released by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives in conjunction with American Express Global Business Travel shows that the vast majority of 350 corporate travel managers polled don’t have plans to introduce sharing economy services and have lagged in implementing services like in-trip messaging.

Instead, more than half said they’re focusing on savings instead of improving the travel experience for clients. They’ve reduced flexibility in the use of alternate booking channels and tightened advance purchase requirements.

A focus group conducted for the report found that duty of care, namely security, concerns plague sharing economy services, particularly in accommodations. Participants also said that their clients simply weren’t interested in sharing economy options.

“Would we use Airbnb? Absolutely not and that’s mostly for security reasons,” said one global travel manager from the U.K. “We don’t see this changing in the next two years. It’s different with Uber. We’re still evaluating Uber in terms of safety, but we’re not stopping travelers using it.”

Forty-five percent of travel managers polled said their travelers aren’t interested in sharing economy travel options, while about one in 10 travel managers have already made provisions for sharing economy travel options.

The report also found that corporate travel lags behind leisure travel when it comes to using digital technology to exchange messages with clients. Less than a quarter of those polled said they have implemented in-trip messaging.

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Less than 20 percent said they even have an app for clients to manage their travel.
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Increased communication with clients, however, is on the corporate travel manager wish list. A solid 42 percent said they want to use user group communities to improve communication with travelers over the next two years.

The silver lining for business travelers could be that the recent focus on creating savings will now let travel managers to concentrate on improving service.

“One of the most striking trends identified by The Evolution of Travel Policy is the shifting balance between savings and service,” concludes the report. “In the past one to two years, respondents report that travel policy was driven chiefly by savings, while traveller service came a distant third in the corporate travel manager’s ranking.”


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Tags: business travel, sharing economy

Photo credit: Airbnb's business travel site. Airbnb

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