A new report reveals that 45 per cent of Chinese companies expect their business travel spending to increase over the next 12 months.
The 2018 China Business Travel Survey (also known as the Barometer) by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) and China International Travel Service (CITS) shows the strongest confidence among Chinese companies since it was launched 14 years ago.
A key finding in the 2018 report is that the portion of business travel spend allocated to domestic trips in China (as opposed to international) has grown by 18 per cent compared to the 2017 Barometer.
American Express GBT and CITS say this indicates that the level of business activities in tier two and three cities in mainland China is increasing.
A survey conducted as part of the research also found that cost savings (62 per cent) and compliance (57 per cent) are the top priorities for the travel programmes of Chinese companies, whereas safety and security has lost its place at the top compare to last year.
The top three concerns for Chinese business travellers remain the complexity of processes such as travel expense reimbursement (49 per cent) and pre-trip validation (37 per cent), as well as travel conditions being too strict in general (37 per cent).
Despite the expected growth in travel, 45 per cent of Chinese travel managers believe they have limited knowledge on how to manage a programme in current business conditions.
Kevin Tan, vice president of CITS American Express GBT, commented: “An interesting dynamic is emerging when it comes to business activity in China – in addition to domestic growth, China’s outbound direct investment is once again growing, indicating a focus on international business activity.
“Travel managers now need to ensure travel programmes and policies adequately cover the needs of travellers and companies in these new geographies. Emerging cities often lack the same level of infrastructure as more developed cities, creating a need to focus on spend categories that may have received a smaller budget allocation in the past, such as ground transportation. They should also ensure Chinese business travellers are sufficiently trained and educated in the nuances of travelling in different environments.
“Traditionally for many companies in China, travel budgets have focused primarily on travel servicing rather than strategic travel management. However, as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of China’s Reform and Opening this year, cost savings, governance and business efficiency have become a greater focus for Chinese companies. It’s critical that companies engage the right partners for their businesses in order to create a travel programme that meets their evolving needs.”