European business travel spend is likely to increase by 4.3 per cent in 2019, according to the European Business Travel Barometer study by American Express Global Business Travel (GBT).

The annual report found that 2018 saw a 3.8 per cent year-on-year rise in travel spend – 0.4 per cent more than was forecast in the previous barometer. There was also a 3.6 per cent annual increase in the number of people travelling for work.

Amex GBT’s senior vice president and managing director, international, Elyes Mrad, commented: “The findings of the study are positive. After a year of geopolitical and economic uncertainty, businesses are still focused on investing in travel to foster relationships and facilitate growth.”

Amex GBT also revealed a shift in managed travel priorities. Traveller security took the top spot for the last three years, but in the 2019 report cost control takes precedence, followed by data security.

Traveller satisfaction came fourth on the list of priorities, but 71 per cent of businesses now measure this metric compared to 56 per cent the previous year. As a result, two-thirds of companies now use traveller satisfaction as a tool to improve employee engagement, which Amex GBT says is reflected in a shift away from strict travel policies – down 16 per cent since 2016 – in favour of greater flexibility.

Mrad added: “The challenge businesses face is balancing cost efficiency and effectiveness, enabling travel to support their objectives, but at the same time, meeting the needs and expectations of employees. We expect to see a growing demand for flexible, smarter travel policies, tools and services that respond quickly to deliver feedback.”

A summary of results and analysis from the 2019 European Business Travel Barometer can be found here

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