Skift Take

Business travel still has a long way to go in terms of sustainability and accommodating employee needs. Mastercard’s latest survey shows how no company is the same.

A new study from Mastercard highlights how decision makers and travelers perceive sustainability, vacation rentals, and other topics in corporate travel.

Survey feedback came from 265 corporate travel decision makers and 151 business travelers around the world. Other issues in the paper include reformed travel and expenses (T&E) policies and airplane class seating.

As corporate travel continues to evolve in the years since the pandemic, here’s what you need to know:

Push for sustainability in business travel

Previous research has shown that corporate travel has made few strides toward prioritizing sustainability. Some companies are taking steps, though, with rail travel and other initiatives.

Companies and travel decision makers

  • 61% urge business travelers to consider sustainable options while booking
  • A quarter have a “sustainability tax” they internally charge to employees or departments based on booking options
  • 42% encourage or mandate rail travel globally as an alternative to air travel, hoping to limit carbon emissions or reduce cost
  • 58% encourage or mandate rail travel in specific countries

Business travelers

  • 53% say their company encourages or mandates rail travel globally
  • 78% say their company encourages or mandates rail travel regionally

Acceptance of vacation rentals

While sometimes cheaper, some companies avoid vacation rentals due to duty of care, which could include employee safety concerns. This isn’t stopping some companies and employees from exploring this option, though.

Companies and travel decision makers

  • 53% permit booking vacation rentals

Business travelers

  • 74% of business travelers say their companies allow booking vacation rentals for work trips, indicating some misalignment between traveler and decision maker expectations

Integrated and honed T&E policies and procedures

There is a growing market for tools and products that streamline T&E. Employees are vocal about their needs.

Business travelers

  • Over 42% believe their companies’ T&E policies need improvement
  • 54% want payment and expense integration 
  • 66% say easy-to-find policies can help them follow T&E guidance

Who gets the ‘better’ airplane seat

Companies have varying policies about who gets the “good” seat, if anyone.

Companies and travel decision makers

  • 27% don’t allow first class for anyone, but 40% allow first class for senior executives
  • 15% bar basic economy for anyone

Business travelers

  • 42% say their companies allow employees to upgrade with points
  • 26% to 36% say their companies have policies based on flight length that could grant someone a better seat

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Tags: air travel, airplanes, business travel, corporate travel, first class, Mastercard, rail, rail travel, short-term rentals, survey, sustainability, travel and expense, vacation rentals

Photo credit: Mastercard released a new T&E report. Håkan Dahlström / Flickr

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