Why business travel policies and tools must put people first

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The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reported that global business travel spend reached $1.33 trillion in 2017, representing a significant contribution to the world economy. A recent webinar, “Putting People Before Policy: The Evolution of Business Travel,” hosted by SkiftX and corporate travel management company, TripActions, examined the challenges we’re currently facing due to cultural and corporate shifts in the business travel environment.

The problems with today’s business travel

Employee attitudes toward business travel are evolving. While up to 90 percent of company employees say business travel is a key perk of their jobs, that gleaming perk is losing some of its shine due to frustrating corporate travel policies that don’t meet their needs, and ineffective booking tools that don’t work as well as consumer tools, like Expedia and Kayak. Far too many road warriors are worn out dealing with delayed flights, overbooked hotels and an unhealthy work/life balance.

All of this is having a negative impact on company financial performance as well, with a number of studies suggesting that poorly designed business travel policies lead to lost productivity, absenteeism, and low employee morale. Companies using outdated travel policies and tools also deal with compliance issues, with about half of travelers going rogue. They reject using a company’s tool and book work trips outside of approved channels because the experience is too unwieldy.

Corporations need people-first policies & booking tools

Business travel is a constant balancing act. Corporations are looking for the greatest ROI, while travelers are looking for customized experiences and the ability to earn free loyalty points for later personal use. Implementing modern solutions that close the gap between what travelers want and what organizations are giving them improves compliance and increases adoption.

To accomplish this, corporations need to implement people-first policies for their traveling employees, allowing them to enhance business travel with authentic, local experiences, and providing them with booking tools that they’ll love and want to use. Newer policies allow travelers to blend business trips with leisure and family vacations. Companies reap the benefits derived from face-to-face meetings – like better collaboration and more cohesive teams – while employee morale and retention rates jump up as well.

Research shared in the Amadeus white paper, “Better Business, Smarter Travel Perspectives on the future of Managed Travel 3.0,” revealed that in 2017, along with the growth in mobile there were more than 5 billion users on messaging apps. New tools like TripActions use artificial intelligence, mobile chat and other innovative technologies to accommodate traveler preferences and track spend, accomplishing in minutes what used to take hours. Amadeus Selling Platform Connect and Amadeus cytric Travel & Expense are next-generation solutions that allow TMCs to retain visibility of their travel investments while providing business travelers with flexible, personalized and mobile-friendly booking access to the widest global content available.

Today’s corporate travel policies and technology tools must be flexible and agile. In order to transform business travel from “a pain to a perk,” solution providers must maintain a strong employee focus, while simultaneously serving the best interests of TMCs and their corporate clients.

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