Travel technology provider Sabre Corporation’s 2017 Asia Pacific Corporate Traveller Study shows 80% of travel managers believe mobility is their biggest priority, with companies struggling to stay on top of those who deviate from their policy.

The research found nearly half of corporate travellers make changes to their trips, with 43 per cent deviating from their companies’ travel policy ahead of travel and 42 per cent adjusting plans during their trip.

As firms strive to find a balance between compliance and traveller satisfaction, many respondents (47 per cent in 2016) have seen their companies actively re-crafting their travel policies to accommodate more booking autonomy. A quarter has also witnessed clients deploying mobile apps that incorporate policy compliance options, shifting responsibility onto the traveller.

A major finding in the report is that 80 per cent of travel managers believe mobility – from making bookings on mobile devices to itinerary management and staying in touch with travellers via instant messaging – is their top priority, highlighting the importance being placed on moving toward a mobile-first strategy. The third-highest priority for travel managers is alternative forms of payment technology (66 per cent).

With the emergence of ‘super apps’ such as WeChat in China and other apps integrating multiple aspects of travel management, companies are being encouraged to embrace technology as a way of engaging the next generation of travellers and improving their overall experience while maximising efficiency.

Another interesting fact to come out of the report is the increasing popularity of premium economy seats as a way to cut costs without compromising traveller comfort. More than half of respondents indicated that companies are switching from business class to premium economy or upgrading travellers from economy. The result is 81 per cent of travel managers seeing an increase in these bookings.

“The increasing incidence of non-compliance is the result of corporate travellers booking out of policy, where they extend business trips to include some leisure time at their own expense. With more companies shifting accountability of policy compliance to the traveller, the ability to integrate non-traditional sources of flight and accommodation, and option to change plans easily while on the go, will go a long way in helping the corporate traveller adhere to policy without compromising on the quality of travel,” said Jason Toothman, vice president of global accounts, Sabre Travel Network Asia Pacific.

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