Respondents to a new UK travel manager survey have rated duty of care and traveller wellbeing as the most important challenges for their organisation in 2019, above cost savings, transport ancillary services and environmental sustainability. The human factors trumps the list as political changes, the global economic slowdown, and the mysteries of NDC take a back seat for travel managers, who are evidently just getting on with the business at hand, according to the insights from business travel technology provider Traveldoo, an Expedia Group company.
The big question is… is this a shared global vision or just constrained to the UK market? The full findings of the Traveldoo survey will be revealed later this month at The Business Travel Show in London, but it has at least provided some initial statistics to back up its observations.
With an ever-changing industry environment, and dramatic political and economic factors on the horizon, there are clearly numerous issues currently impacting travel managers. More than seven in ten ranked duty of care (73%) and traveller wellbeing (70%) as the most critical issues based on a rating of ‘very important’, in a multiple answer question, according to the data. Around two thirds of respondents highlighted data security (65%), while more than half selected technology and innovation (57%), cost saving (56%) and full content (55%).
Delving further into the findings, data security continues to be a key concern with 100% of respondents emphasising its key importance. Surprisingly, a small sample of managers (4%) still cite technology and innovation as ‘not very important’, despite the advent of an array of tools and technology. Over 70% have already adopted self-booking tools, and are successfully generating bookings, whilst technophobia or tech-fatigue may explain why 17% say their organisations haven’t yet adopted self-booking tools.
The responses also highlight that dedicated and expert travel management teams (69%) rather than HR department (30%) take charge of travellers’ wellbeing, safety and security. More and more businesses (60%) are actively encouraging and support ‘bleisure’ extensions as part of their corporate travel programme, with over 13% considering adding this as a perk. Meanwhile, programme compliance is also identified as an ongoing issue with organisations increasingly tightening up their travel policies – over 78% surveyed described their organisation’s travel policy as ‘strict’.
While Traveldoo says NDC is taking a back seat for the UK travel managers, that may be due to it still being somewhat of an unknown quantity. Its survey found that just 9% responded that they could confidently explain it to a stranger, whilst 36% have a solid understanding and 36% know the basics, over 20% have a very limited knowledge. This highlights there is still much work to educate travel managers, though more than three quarters (81%) admit it’s of interest and importance to their work.
The pace of change has certainly accelerated, with more mobile apps and self-booking tools on the market, and travel management companies vying for business. Traveldoo asked about travel manager’s predisposition for change, and the majority (46%) would wait four years or, more before changing a tool, management company, app or accounting system, preferring to work more long-term despite the competitive marketplace.
So with these insights in mind, what does the business travel technology provider believe is in store for the year ahead? Traveldoo says there “will not be a revolution in 2019” but rather “the confirmation of fundamental trends”. These comprise the breakthrough of mobile bookings, the use of new payment means by virtual cards, the gradual implementation of NDC and, last but not least, the evolution of new travel policies aimed at enhancing the business travel environment with an enjoyable stay.