The new age of business travel is intentional, with employees increasingly emphasizing work-life integration and changing dynamics
This is according to a new report – “The Current State of Business Travel: Business Traveler and Travel Manager Priorities” – published today by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and sponsored by Uber for Business. The report explores sentiments of both U.S. and Canadian travel managers and business travelers on the topics of business traveler experience, sustainability and cost savings.
Fueled by the pandemic, enhanced video conferencing capabilities, evolving work patterns and sustainability concerns, both business travelers and travel managers have experienced a shift in expectations around how they approach corporate travel and its policies – but with varying degrees of alignment.
“This report showcases the current state of traveling for business – the insightful findings show the connection between business travelers and business travel managers when it comes to employee travel choices,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA. “The report also uncovers opportunities to improve communication on travel policies such as when it comes to reducing the carbon footprint of travel and cost saving measures to achieve a financially responsible business travel program.”
Key findings from the study include:
- THE “ESSENTIAL” IMPORTANCE OF TRAVEL TO ACHIEVE BUSINESS GOALS. Among North American business travelers, 87% say business travel is “essential” or “helpful” to achieving their business objectives. In fact, North American business travelers say they travel “more” (39%) or “the same” (29%) as they did compared to 2019.
- A FOCUS ON ALLEVIATING STRESS OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH BUSINESS TRAVEL. Business travelers can experience personal challenges when traveling for work, including being away from family and/or pets (60%) and stress often associated with traveling (48%). Travel managers say they consider and evaluate different travel-related stress-relieving perks for their employees such as permitting late-start days to alleviate jet lag (74%) and allowing employees to book airlines and/or hotels where the employee is eligible for loyalty points (68%).
- SUSTAINABILITY IS TOP OF MIND FOR MANY BUSINESS TRAVELERS. Environmental and sustainability concerns continue to extend to business travel, with 61% of business travelers stating that limiting or reducing carbon emissions is a priority. However, there is a disconnect between business travelers and travel managers on how sustainability issues should be prioritized. North American travel managers say sustainability is a small priority (27%), if even a priority at all (22%). To throw another variable into the mix, a recent survey found 86% of organizations across the globe said they have plans to increase investments in sustainability initiatives. Cutting emissions is a growing priority in those efforts as companies explore various means to shrink their footprint. It’s important to integrate travel managers into corporate goals to incorporate more sustainability focused policies and initiatives into travel programs, encourage no-emission or low-emission transportation options and track progress toward sustainability goals.
- MOST BUSINESS TRAVELERS USE RIDESHARE. Of those surveyed, 74% of North American business travelers say they at least occasionally use a rideshare provider while on business travel, with 36% responding they use rideshares frequently. In addition, 58% of travelers say they have a business profile with a rideshare provider when they travel for work. Travel managers cite improved data and reporting, improved risk management and duty of care, and cost savings as the top three benefits of having a corporate rideshare account.
“The last few years have taught the business world that the only true constant is change,” said Susan Anderson, Global Head of Uber for Business and Business Development at Uber. “At Uber for Business, we believe that this change brings about a spirit of progress. This year, we’re seeing employers become increasingly intentional with their business travel policies and decisions, while more business travelers are prioritizing green choices and rideshare options. We look forward to being a critical partner to companies as they navigate ongoing changes and embrace new opportunities, whether that means reaching corporate sustainability goals or giving their business travelers the best experience possible.”
Data collection for two separate online surveys of U.S. and Canadian travel managers and business travelers took place between May and June 2023, with 147 travel managers and 411 business travelers completing each survey, respectively.