The travel landscape continues to change as parts of the world start opening up, but with many restrictions still in place, we could be waiting a bit longer before business travel is back up to full speed and confidence is fully restored.
Many are embracing and enjoying the hybrid way of working but recent business travel research commissioned by the SAP Concur team, found that whilst 79% of business travellers have personal concerns when it comes to returning to travel, they are also worried about the impact of not travelling on their business performance. They are most concerned that if travel doesn’t increase, it will be more difficult to sign new deals (35%) and build new relationships (33%).
Returning to business travel will no doubt come with its challenges, but interestingly 99% of UK business travellers are willing to travel in the next 12 months even though 90% are expecting to experience changes to their travel routine once “on the road”.
Get Ready to Be Ready!
So, what can businesses do to keep their employees safe, improve their duty of care, remain compliant and act in a sustainable manner? Here’s what you need to keep in mind:
- Use automated processes to protect travellers’ health and safety while on-the-go.
Employees themselves are calling for these measures. The research found that more than half of travellers (53%) would make changes if their company was unable to provide the necessary policy or measures to protect their health and safety, including 29% who would try limit their travel and 22% who would look for a new position. End-to-end management of the travel process allows employers to provide an enhanced duty of care to their travelling staff. Locations can be easily accessed at any time by line managers as all the travel details will be on the same automated platform. Travel and expense solutions also enable pre-approval to be built into the process, so there’s a greater understanding of travellers’ plans.
- Run training sessions to get employees up to speed with updated travel policies.
Travel and expense solutions build compliance into the process and can holistically update any policy changes. By doing so, travellers will have a clear understanding on what method of travel may be best for a particular trip. For example, 31% of travellers said they’d use a personal vehicle for travelling instead of public transportation, so it’s important that they know the mileage they are entitled to claim back or be presented with other preferred methods of travel.
- Provide flexible booking options via one simple booking tool.
Business travellers are already opting for more sustainable options such as taking a train instead of a plane where possible, booking sustainable accommodation and looking for better ground transportation. The research found that more than half of business travellers (53%) expect to make more sustainable changes to their travel habits, including prioritising trips with shorter distances (24%), prioritising alternatives to air travel (23%) and avoiding layovers (21%).
Bonus Points: Retain and Attract Talent
On top of the efforts to battle the climate crisis, having these sorts of measures and considerations in place attracts new talent and helps retain the employees you already have. For most age groups, 8 out of 10 business travellers would be more inclined to work for a company that builds sustainability into its corporate policy, with the most committed being 25–39-year-olds (79%).
It’s inevitable that business travel will return, but businesses need to be prepared for the changing landscape and support their employees as they attempt to navigate it. From training sessions to providing an enhanced duty of care, and from environmental sustainability to building any changes to policy into the booking process, there are many ways businesses can equip themselves for these changes.
Concur Travel provides end-to-end management for travel bookings, allowing end-users to book, review and report on their business trips in one, centralised platform. Take a look at the travel tools and apps available to help take the complexity out of business travel in a new landscape.