Although traveller safety was cited (on average) as the key focus area for 2019, it’s worth highlighting that a third of the respondents didn’t place traveller safety within their top four. Why is this? Well, every travel buyer is working within a unique business with its own agenda and they are running a rather unique travel programme.

Travel programme management is unique from one company to another and each organisation will be at a different state of development and prioritisation at any one time.

We also asked how many of our travel buyers plan to renegotiate with suppliers in the coming year and what format the process will take. Year on year, there is a reduction in corporate appetite for air programme request for proposal (RFP), with only 11% planning this in 2019.

 

Supplier negotiations are still a priority

 

Despite the much-debated trend towards dynamic pricing in the accommodation sector, 33% of our buyer members said they still planned a full hotel RFP in 2019, although this does represent a reduction from 42% in the previous year. More action is predicted for the travel management company (TMC) segment though, with 36% of respondents declaring that they intend to RFP in 2019 versus 24% in 2018.

 

Brexit is likely to make travel planning more complex

 

Very few, if any, travel buyers would describe their role as simple, so it must have been particularly exciting for over 95% of them to report that they expect Brexit and its associated potential scenarios to make their lives even more complicated. It is therefore no surprise that corporate confidence levels have somewhat decreased compared to a year ago.

 

A year for managing change within business travel

 

It’s likely that 2019’s biggest focus will actually be how well we can all navigate the sheer volume of change and how we make things work, not only for our travellers and organisations but for the business travel industry as a whole.

 

Institute of Travel Management (ITM) is the leading association for business travel professionals in the UK & Ireland, representing more than 3,700 members. www.itm.org.uk