Skift Take

Travel buyers know that simplifying their programs can lead to major benefits for their organization. Corporate travel, unfortunately, is anything but simple.

Building a corporate travel program entails building a variety of partnerships with both travel and technology companies. It should come as no surprise that reducing complexity is a priority for travel buyers, even if their companies don’t look at things the same way.

New research, however, finds that it’s not just internal priorities that are preventing simpler travel programs from taking shape.

The Simplifying Managed Travel 2020 report from ACTE and HRS polled 227 corporate travel buyers between September and October 2019 to discover how companies are working to simplify their travel offerings.

Unsurprisingly, travel buyers are keen to make things simpler but face a number of organizational and technological roadblocks; 97 percent of buyers said more effective business travel programs support their company’s goals, compared to 72 percent in 2017.

“These findings indicate that travel buyers are now placing an even greater priority on moving towards simplifying all aspect of their travel program, not only to improve internal processes but in a bid to align themselves with the wider business’s strategic goals and drive efficiencies,” states the report.

There are myriad issues, though, preventing them from achieving their goals, most notably that their companies usually have other goals that are seen as more important.

What’s Limiting Your Simplification Initiatives?

Competing Corporate Priorities 46%
Limited Staff 42%
Lack of Time 38%
Lack of Senior Leadership Support 33%
Limited Financial Resources 32%
IT Infrastructure 28%
Lack of Solutions 25%
Travel Policy 22%
Data Privacy 16%

Source: ACTE/HRS

Since fixing corporate travel processes isn’t a major priority, buyers and managers often don’t have the resources they need to streamline operations.

“There is a clear intent by all respondents to move towards an easier and more streamlined travel program,” reads the report. “The difference in closing the execution gap and making changes that simplifies travel programs will ultimately come down to developing an understanding of the varying internal challenges, aligning with the business’ strategic direction and presenting the opportunity to the relevant stakeholders to gain support.

“By region, there was a common thread between respondents in the Americas and EMEA in what they considered as the top three barriers, however, they were ranked differently. For North America, two-thirds cited competing corporate priorities as the biggest challenge, while in EMEA, 45 percent of travel buyers suggested a lack of time as the biggest inhibitor to simplifying their travel program.”

Companies with travel spend under $15 million were most limited by corporate priorities, as well, while companies spending more than $50 million were also limited by limited staff to assist them.

While buyers turn to corporate partners to help, most suppliers and tech companies aren’t much help at all.

How Helpful Are Stakeholders in Simplification?

Partner Very Helpful Neutral Not Helpful
TMCs 52% 36% 11%
Online Booking Tools 44% 35% 21%
Technology Provider 43% 48% 9%
Expense Report Provider 24% 47% 19%
Air 31% 52% 17%
Hotel 31% 46% 23%

Source: ACTE/HRS

“In most cases, organizations often work with one TMC rather than having multiple agencies,” notes the report. “However, to develop a robust and effective travel program, travel buyers are required to work with multiple hotel, air, and expense report providers. Managing these relationships can be challenging, and any changes to simplify the program will not only require several discussions but also impact internal stakeholders and employees.”

Life is complicated for travel buyers and the effort to simplify is a priority. The reality is that the variety of partnerships buyers need helps create complexity and these partners aren’t doing enough to help.

Check out the full report below.

Download (PDF, 1.36MB)


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Tags: corporate travel, ctir, managed travel

Photo credit: Hartfield-Jackson (ATL) hosted its first Passenger Earth Day Celebration in the domestic terminal atrium. The event featured live music, environmentally friendly gifts, coloring books and crafts for children, and a 10-foot globe, which was on display throughout the day. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport / Flickr

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