Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) recently published its "CWT Travel Management Priorities" report based on an international survey of nearly 800 travel managers. The scope of the survey includes companies with mid-sized national programs and an annual travel spend in the range of US$2 million as well as companies with large, international travel programs with an annual travel spend of more than US$100 million.
The report shows that the overall ranking of priorities for 2013 remains very similar to the order of priorities for 2012. Travel buyers intend to focus on areas representing the greatest savings opportunities rather than those associated with the traveler experience. This is true regardless of the size of the company, the industry type, the budget spent on travel or the scope of the travel program.
"The challenging economic climate means that there is continued pressure on buyers to both reduce costs and manage travel in a more cost-effective way," said Christophe Renard, CWT vice president marketing, communications and business intelligence. "As air and ground travel represents the majority of spend within a travel program, it is not surprising that it is the No. 1 priority for most travel buyers, even though it is an area that is already well advanced in terms of optimization."
The measures that travel managers plan to take to achieve these objectives vary according to region. While North American travel buyers are aiming to further consolidate their programs and standardize processes, their counterparts in Asia-Pacific are intending to focus more on improving travel compliance and mandating preferred booking channels; Latin American travel buyers are concentrating on implementing advanced booking rules and strengthening car rental policies, whereas travel buyers from Europe, the Middle East and Africa are tightening air and rail policies to drive down air and ground costs.
Travel buyers with global responsibility are the only category of buyers to tackle traveler compliance with technology 2.0. Their top three actions to achieve this target include offering mobile services to travelers, implementing a social media tool or apps and providing their travelers with a Web-based traveler portal. To achieve the same objective, regional travel buyers are looking at more traditional actions such as communication and training on policy.
"Travel managers with a global scope are more likely to test new procedures and techniques," Renard said. "They tend to be very advanced in optimizing their travel programs and as a result, they are often looking to address new challenges with innovative methods."
The second part of the report covers the business travel trends for 2013 and digs into the changes that travel buyers are likely to see over the year and the challenges they will be faced with in the current economic climate and evolving business travel landscape. From a pricing perspective, it is likely that global inflation will hit travel prices modestly overall, with increases of under 5 percent; in addition, travel managers will need to monitor programs and suppliers closely, paying particular attention to areas such as rising ancillary fees and fuel surcharges.
Changes in technology will affect the travel process with consumer-influenced technology increasingly finding its way into corporate travel through services such as travel review sites and mobile apps specifically designed for business travelers.
Travel management 2.0 will also be a major theme in 2013 as companies seek to find the right balance between exercising the right level of control over traveler booking behaviors while ensuring that travel is still “managed” for budgetary, and safety and security reasons.
Finally, risk management will also play a key role as companies send travelers to increasingly high risk areas and duty of care during business travel becomes an integral part of a company’s legal responsibility to its employees.