Most U.S. corporate travel buyers expect their company’s business travel to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. Despite inflation and inflation concerns, only one in five travel managers said their companies have started curtailing business. Travel, according to the Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) new report, “How Travel Managers Will Succeed in 2023.”
Since the start of the pandemic, however, travel managers’ time and priorities have grown, including addressing traveler needs, conducting data analysis, and the challenge of balancing cost effectiveness with the business traveler experience.
The GBTA and Spotnana report is based on survey responses from 151 US corporate travel buyers. As travel managers expect business travel to return to pre-pandemic levels, it looks at key questions, including existing and new priority roles and travel program metrics they are currently tracking.
“This latest study not only provides travel managers with valuable benchmark data and insights into their peers’ priorities, but also provides suppliers and other industry stakeholders with critical insights to help them make informed decisions and plan for the future of business travel,” said GBTA CEO Susan Nufang.
“We want to look to those on the front lines of all the changes in business travel for their expert insight and perspective on what’s ahead,” said Jonny Thorson, vice president of partnerships at SpotNana. “Understanding the experiences and perspectives of travel managers provides valuable knowledge for all stakeholders to enhance their business travel programs.”
According to the report, here are some highlights:
- Recovery continues on its way. Travel managers expect most types of business travel to reach the end of 2023 before the pandemic, including domestic business travel (74%), external meetings (77%), meeting/group travel (76%) and internal meetings (69%). %)
But one in 10 travel managers don’t expect business travel volumes to rebound until 2025 or later, citing inflation and inflation, travel disruptions and a possible recession. A few respondents felt that business travel would not return to pre-pandemic levels.
- Business travel will continue as planned. Most companies (64%) say they are unlikely to restrict business travel, although many are taking a wait-and-see approach and are not seriously considering restricting business travel (36%). Only one in five travel managers responded that their company (19%) was developing plans to limit business travel.
- Balancing expenses and travel priorities. Both travel managers (54%) and senior management (65%) continue to prioritize cost savings, but travel managers rank the traveler experience (51%) more highly than executives (42%), making it more difficult to gain buy-in beyond focus. expenses. The study highlighted the increasing importance of travel experience metrics, particularly as the preferences of the business traveler evolve.
- A day in the life of a travel manager now. When asked which tasks they would devote more time to before the outbreak, travel managers most frequently prioritized traveler communications/inquiries (72%) and their travel management company (TMC) communications (59%). They also spend more time on data analysis (52%) and risk management/travel monitoring (42%). Few reported spending less time on key travel program components, reflecting the complexity of managed travel programs.
- Benefits of collaboration and metrics. Travel managers need to collaborate with stakeholders, with the most cited being finance/accounting (69%), senior management/C-suite (49%) and risk management/security (44%). But only three in five (59%) respondents said they regularly share travel-related performance metrics with senior management.
Three in five travel managers (62%) say cost-based metrics are the most important metrics they will use to evaluate the success of their programs in 2023. However, a significant number (32%) said metrics focused on the travel experience would be singular. The most important metric you use to measure success.
- Opportunities for partners. When asked about their top pain points, travel managers cited agents/assistance (48%), data analysis/reporting/dashboarding (37%) and their company’s ability to provide “custom” travel plans (33%). In terms of key OBITs, travel managers identified end-user/traveller experience (49%), ability to manage changes or cancellations (47%) and innovation (41%) as key pain points.