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Corporate Traveller identifies SME trends for resuming travel

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To support SME businesses in aligning their business travel programmes with CSR and environmental objectives, Corporate Traveller’s account management team has introduced client-specific sustainability reviews with agreed measurable targets, carbon offsetting metrics paired with overall reduction in emissions, and sustainable travel policy initiatives.

Corporate Traveller UK, specialists in managing travel for companies with an SME size annual travel spend of £50K to £2M, has seen significant changes to customers’ travel programmes and policies over the last six months among the 50 per cent of businesses who continued to travel, as well as those preparing to resume business travel.

During the height of the pandemic last year, customer research revealed that the top three priorities were dominated by duty of care, approvals and travel policy.  Since then, sustainability has seen a major shift up the agenda to become one of the top three core components of SME travel programme reviews alongside duty of care and traveller wellbeing.

To support SME businesses in aligning their business travel programmes with CSR and environmental objectives, Corporate Traveller’s account management team has introduced client-specific sustainability reviews with agreed measurable targets, carbon offsetting metrics paired with overall reduction in emissions, and sustainable travel policy initiatives.

Corporate Traveller client, Berry Bros & Rudd’s Sustainability Manager Mike Werner comments: ““We receive quarterly travel carbon footprint reports which outline in detail the contribution of air and rail travel, as well as hotel stays to our overall carbon footprint. This has been hugely helpful in establishing baselines and identifying where and how we can improve. Corporate Traveller’s sustainability partner Susterra also supported our business by outlining some initiatives we can take to reduce and offset our travel emissions.”

Harriet Menhinick, People Business Partner at another Corporate Traveller client Brady PLC said. “This was our first carbon footprint appraisal and so it was important for us to work with a provider who was able to expertly advise us on how to collate and report on our travel and energy usage data. Not only did the report detail our carbon emissions, it also identified trends between Co2 reductions and potential cost savings to the business. This information proved very helpful in the process of identifying and obtaining agreement for specific Co2e reduction targets.”

Other noticeable SME trends observed by Corporate Traveller include:

  • A major increase in bookings of serviced apartments as travellers needed larger flexible space to work, sleep, eat and relax during a business trip, while hotels and other services were closed, but also to feel more secure and maintain social distancing. Bookings of apartments and aparthotels rose by 25 per cent in 2020 year on year. Average length of stay also increased from 1.8 nights in 2019, to 2.7 nights in 2020.   
  • Travel planning and expense management will become more complex to accommodate an increase in employees not merely working from home, but working from anywhere in the country or worldwide. Clients are already leaning on Corporate Traveller’s account management team for support in facilitating this movement.
  • In recent travel programme reviews, there has been a renewed prioritisation of traveller wellbeing and duty of care to support those returning to travel and avoid any negative impact on traveller’s mental or physical health.

Lea Duchemin, Customer Onboarding Team Manager, Corporate Traveller commented: “With the prospect of travel opening up again, our SME customers are becoming more focused on ensuring that they return to travel purposefully and carbon consciously. Travel policies are also evolving to become travel ‘cultures’, placing greater emphasis on the benefits rather than the restrictions and acknowledging that business travel is an integral part of the company’s culture. Unique traveller experiences are at the centre of those changes. Companies also function best when their people are safe, healthy and happy. Travellers are therefore also being put at the heart of travel programmes through wellbeing reviews, travel policy development, bespoke reporting and tailored air and hotel options.”

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