According to research from the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE), underwritten by HRS, travel managers are struggling in the face of changing technology and business travellers’ needs and expectations. Respondents recognise the challenge and understand that simplifying their programmes could yield benefits, but simplification initiatives face competing priorities.

Titled Simplifying Managed Travel, the study finds that traveller safety is at the top of a list of priorities, with 94 per cent of respondents saying duty of care is a key area they’re focusing on. Meanwhile, 88 per cent are prioritising cost reduction, 84 per cent data security, 75 per cent traveller satisfaction and 72 per cent simplifying their travel programme.

However, survey participants said they understand that simplification can help them in other areas of their travel programme; 47 per cent said it would improve duty of care and 39 per cent believe it could reduce overall cost.

Despite seeing the importance and full potential of simplifying their travel programmes, managers reported a gap between intention and execution. When asked which areas could benefit from simplification most, 83 per cent said duty of care – with 62 per cent saying it needs immediate attention. Data security comes next on the list.

Regardless of their knowledge of the benefits that could come from simplification of these areas, only 23 per cent are not translating their duty of care and data security plans into action (23 and 24 per cent).

Furthermore, travel managers recognise the value third parties can provide to simplifying their programmes, with more than half saying they don’t currently turn to outside help but want to do so.

The findings echo concerns expressed by Lori O’Connell, senior director of travel and meetings at PwC, at the ACTE CAPA Aviation & Corporate Travel Summit. O’Connell said she’d like to see more streamlined process developed for travel managers in regards to bookings and managing traveller expectations.

Commenting on the study findings, Greeley Koch, executive director of ACTE, said: “Travel managers and travellers alike long for a simpler system for business travel – it’s become beyond onerous for many of them to navigate policies, processes and outdated tools as new technologies have been phased in without the opportunity to phase out older ones. The great irony is that simplification can help meet higher-priority business objectives.”

Tobias Ragge, CEO of HRS, added: “The value travel management provides to a company is increasingly measured in optimised processes and cross-department collaboration. The study shows this close collaboration is vital and that leading companies build on their internal stakeholder network, but they also rely on the data, advice and support of external partners to reach their strategic goals.”

The full study can be downloaded here.

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