The corporate travel industry only came to exist about 25 years ago, but within that time, the developments have been dramatic.
Business travel safety
Through the emergence of mobile access to the web and direct sourcing on the move, many business travellers are booking their own corporate travel, believing they can get the best deal by shopping around.
However, the issue of safety and security is one that the company needs to take responsibility for. Under Duty of Care legislation, employers have an obligation to ensure employees travelling on company business are as safe as can be reasonably ensured.
The safer option
Business travel managers and buyers need to know where employees are and ensure they are using reputable, company-approved airlines, hotels and ground transport options.
Business travel managers need to be able to track the location of employees’ travelling on company business, both at home and abroad, to provide support and assistance in the event of a major unexpected event.
Technological advances in business travel
The answer for many business travel managers and buyers depends on the speed of the next generation of technological innovation. To allow business travellers to make their own business travel sourcing decisions, using their channels of choice, within company guidelines, the technology needs to catch up.
Travel buyers and managers may choose to develop internal systems to consolidate all business travel bookings regardless of fare type or booking channel. There are numerous apps available that can help but not all travellers in the company use the same mobile devices or download the same tools.
There is no standardisation, and in a workplace where employers are now recruiting ﬁve generations of employees, each using and requiring different styles and channels of communication, we are unlikely to ever see total standardisation.
Managing business travel costs
As overall business travel costs remain one of the largest spend categories, some corporations may restructure their organisations to increase the business travel manager or buyer’s remit to include inﬂuence over mobile and travel and entertainment (T&E) expenses in a bid to contain or reduce costs.
Business travel itself may only be the core business for those buying and selling travel products and services, but it is an enabler of business that contributes to global business growth
We will see a continued effort to drive costs out of the travel programme, however, it should not be forgotten that travel remains a fundamentally crucial part of trade. Business travel is a cost but it is unquestionably an investment.
Business travel itself may only be the core business for those buying and selling travel products and services, but it is an enabler of business that contributes to global business growth. Without it, business will become stagnant.
The key is to make business travel cost efficient, comfortable and relevant. Make a phone or video call when it works but travel and meet multiple clients when travel will create a positive business outcome.
Looking to the future It is true that corporations need to be able to offer their travellers a suite of business travel booking options, avenues and support mechanisms, but before you grumble at your travel manager because the business travel policy doesn’t make sense, or think that you as a business traveller can make your travel reservations cheaper and more effectively yourself, remember the technology simply hasn’t quite caught up yet. But it will!