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Climate change tops agenda for the industry

Cutting costs – biggest challenge facing buyers in 2020; Climate change – biggest challenge facing the industry in 2020. Pressure to reduce costs will impact the way travel will be bought and managed in 2020.

Cutting costs is – once again – the biggest challenge facing business travel buyers, according to a recent survey carried out by Business Travel Show. The poll of 114 European travel buyers also revealed that Brexit stress appears to be subsiding, while sustainability has shot up the agenda.

The pressure to reduce corporate travel spend, which has led the table for four out of the last five years, giving way only once – in 2018 – to Brexit, is now back on top of the challenge chart.

After taking the top spot last year, Brexit returns in third place ahead of ‘appointing a new TMC’, its second consecutive appearance on the table (last year it was eighth). ‘Enforcing compliance’ has also powered back for 2019 after a year-long absence with buyers voting it number two.

Travel manager Jef Robinson claims its compliance keeps him awake at night, specifically, ‘influencing traveller behaviour in changing times.’

“Changing behaviour would result in a more robust and efficient programme with better suppliers,” he said. “Many travellers do not wish to move from their comfort zones, or use of current preferred suppliers, despite medium/long term benefits.”

Perhaps the biggest news is that ‘sustainability’ has finally made its debut on the poll, albeit at number nine; a reflection of the stratospheric rise in awareness and the powershift in action directed at halting and reversing climate change.

‘Climate change’ (first place), ‘travel alternatives’ (sixth) and ‘sustainability’ (ninth) all appeared on the list of challenges facing the travel industry as a whole.

Jef Robinson also believes it is possible – ‘to a degree’ – to have an ethical travel programme, which would include: “Reducing non-essential travel where it can be easily replaced by other forms of engagement; enhanced planning and analytics relating to internal business travel. For example, team meetings, quarterly business reviews, and prioritising ethical suppliers that have robust ethical/environmental programmes and eliminating the worst offenders/suppliers.”

Business Travel Show takes place 26-27 February 2020 at Olympia London and ‘conscious travel’ is one of its themes for this year, with much of the show’s content hinging on how buyers can deliver more ethical travel programmes. Visitors will also enjoy a moment of serenity in the new Wellness Retreat, where they will find innovative solutions for improved traveller wellbeing.

114 travel buyers took part in the seventh Business Travel Show annual survey in November 2017 with responsibility for managing travel across one or more territories, as outlined below.
UK – 56%
Rest of Europe – 35%
Outside Europe – 9%

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