Climate change has shot up on the agenda for corporate travel buyers for 2020, but cutting costs remains the biggest priority, according to a new poll.

A recent survey carried out by the Business Travel Show asked 114 European buyers to name their top priorities and challenges for the year ahead. Respondents revealed that the stress caused by Brexit uncertainty appears to be subsiding, dropping down the list after overtaking cost-cutting – which has been in the number one slot for four of the last five years – in 2018.

Following cost-cutting is enforcing compliance and engaging travellers, with travel manager Jef Robinson claiming this is something that keeps him awake at night. “Changing behaviour would result in a more robust and efficient programme with better suppliers,” Robinson said. “Many travellers do not wish to move from their comfort zones, or use of current preferred suppliers, despite medium/long-term benefits.”

Sustainability made its debut on the list of challenges at number nine, showing the rise in awareness of climate change and travel’s impact on the environment.

Climate change ranked as the number one challenge facing the travel industry as a whole in 2020, up from number eight in 2019, while rising costs and NDC remained at number two and three, respectively.

Robinson commented that building an ethical travel programme would include steps such as: “Reducing non-essential travel where it can be easily replaced by other forms of engagement; enhanced planning and analytics relating to internal business travel. For example, team meetings, quarterly business reviews and prioritising ethical suppliers that have robust ethical/environmental programmes and eliminating the worst offenders/suppliers.”

Appointing a new TMC ranked at number four on this year’s list, followed by airline pricing at fifth and distribution, including NDC, in sixth.

When asked how the way respondents will buy or manage travel over the next 12 months, the majority said there will continue to be pressure to reduce costs. This was followed by increased online bookings, growing the use of technology and appointing or changing TMC.

The Business Travel Show will return to London’s Olympia on 26-27 February 2020, with ‘conscious travel’ one of the themes. Registration for the show is now open, and qualifying travel buyers can apply for the Hosted Buyer programme.

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