LONDON – Has FaceTime replaced genuine ‘face time’? Is business travel so last century? Not according to the business travellers surveyed in the third edition of the Egencia Business Travel and Technology Study. Globally, 86 percent of travellers surveyed said a meeting conducted in-person is more effective and productive, a view consistent across every age group. Travellers in Australia, Canada, China, India, UK, and the US made a stronger endorsement, at 90 percent, on average; as did travellers with a title of VP and above (91 percent). In an age when rampant connectivity allows us to work virtually from anywhere, business travellers believe there is a lot to be said for showing up.
Travel is also closely linked to professional success in the minds of business travellers. More than two-thirds of global travellers surveyed (67 percent) said they would be less successful in their role if they did not travel. Travellers in Australia, Canada, China, India, UK, and the US agreed most strongly at levels above 70 percent, as did VPs and above. Far from being irrelevant, the findings reveal a widespread support for, and confidence in, business travel as a personal and professional tool.
“We support the vital need for business travel by providing solutions travellers actually want to use,” said Rob Greyber, president of Egencia. “If we can improve each traveller’s journey while helping companies manage the bottom line, then we have done our job. Our travellers’ clicks guide us every day in the decisions we make and the technology we deliver toward the user experience.”
While conducting business in-person hasn’t gone out of style, neither has the need for companies to manage the cost of business travel. As companies have moved toward cost containment, travellers have felt the pinch. More than half of travellers (54 percent) said cost is the most important factor to their company when booking a trip. Among travellers who have experienced a more stringent travel policy in recent years, more than three-quarters (78 percent) feel that cost savings has been the driver.
Within this environment, most travellers globally say that policy is not oriented toward their preferences. Fifty-five percent of travellers say their company travel policy meets their needs only somewhat well, and 8 percent of travellers report it does not meet their needs very well, or not at all. Only 38 percent of travellers say their company’s policy meets their needs very well. When confronted with a restrictive policy that prevents travellers from booking a preferred airline or hotel, roughly one out of two travellers is willing to break it. Companies now have an opportunity to better reflect traveller desires and increase compliance at the same time.
The new position paper by Egencia, Policy vs. Policing: Ten Ways to Empower and Take Care of Your Travellers addresses what companies can do to better meet the needs of travellers and improve their overall experience. Our findings and recommendations are based on traveller views and are focussed on four key areas:
- Choice (Do travellers have enough choice and flexibility with respect to content?);
- Comfort (Do travellers feel taken care of on the road?);
- Safety (Are safety guidelines prioritised and communicated effectively enough?); and
- Communication (Are travellers being reached through the channels they prefer?).
Egencia also wanted to find out how travellers are perceiving issues like the sharing economy, mixed leisure and business travel, and their own safety and security when travelling for work.
Personalisation emerged as a major theme of traveller feedback. Whilst 25 percent of travellers globally feel their company travel programme has become more personalised, a further 59 percent have not seen greater personalisation in recent years. Policy segmentation can make certain travellers, whether they are executives or those who travel a certain route or distance, feel more taken care of on the road.
In addition, Egencia recommends that companies not only have a well-thought-out travel policy, but an effective way of reaching travellers and open channels of communication.