Travel management company BCD Travel has identified eight trends that will resonate with travel managers and travellers in 2022, which sees the sector refocusing its priorities due to the pandemic.
“With new Covid variants emerging, it’s not clear when business travel will return to pre-pandemic levels, but it’s high time companies start thinking about how to future fit their travel programmes,” said Jorge Cruz, executive vice president for global sales & marketing at BCD Travel.
“Crucial tasks for travel managers include measuring the value of travel, demonstrating the quality of its outcome, and proving to internal stakeholders that it’s worthwhile. The key is not to simply reduce travel spend, but to increase the effectiveness of that travel towards meeting the company’s goals.”
1. The value of business travel is a moving target
Coming out of a sustained period with little or no travel, companies are reviewing the value of sending employees on business trips. Employees value travel for the opportunities presented by in-person meetings with colleagues, clients and business partners. But travel programmes need to adjust to the new ways of working created by the pandemic, including finding the right balance between virtual and in-person meetings.
2. Environmentally sustainable travel gains traction
The 2021 COP26 UN Climate Change Conference put climate change and sustainability firmly in the global spotlight. As more countries and non-governmental organizations, such as IATA (International Air Transport Association), make commitments toward a net-zero carbon future, the pressure grows for everyone. Companies are engaging with sustainability, and travel managers are exploring ways to reduce their program’s carbon footprint. BCD’s consulting arm, Advito, can help companies accurately report on business travel emissions across air, hotel, car and rail.
3. New worker expectations demand policy changes
Gone are the times of rigid employment policies for office-based workers. The transition to remote settings is rapidly changing the way we work and travel. Companies need to adjust workplace policies to the needs of digital nomads and hybrid employees, firmly placing them on the people risk management agenda.
4. People risk management goes beyond business travel
An increase in remote and hybrid working demands companies extend their duty of care to employees whenever they are away from the office, and not just when they’re on a business trip. Forward-thinking companies are moving from travel risk management to people risk management. They recognise the shift from keeping their travellers safe to keeping all employees safe, no matter where they are.
5. A broader set of risks must be factored in
The risks associated with a global pandemic have dominated people’s minds for almost two years. But as travel returns, it’s important to recognise the other risks to which travel managers and their travellers may be exposed, such as extreme weather events, terrorism, economic risks and cybersecurity breaches. Companies must evaluate their travel risk management programme to ensure their employees’ safety and security on the road.
6. Cybersecurity essentials are vital
Cyber threats continue to grow, as does their potential impact. Many travel managers already recognise the importance of cybersecurity, placing it at the forefront of their TMC relationship. But they also need to protect their company and travellers from active cyber threats. The first step is to recognise cybersecurity as a daily risk to travel and take responsibility for tackling it. Prevention, or minimising the impact, will pay dividends over simply responding to cyber incidents after the damage has been done. Second, as employees are often the weakest point in a company’s defense, it’s highly recommended that travellers receive proper security training and follow the right precautions when taking a business trip.
7. Globalisation reset is underway
Globalisation has brought incredible benefits over the last 20 to 30 years. But political unrest, changing consumer values and costs and supply-chain issues are forcing a rethink. Companies are shifting from a consolidated to a more diversified approach toward supply, production and consumption and looking at ways of bringing production back closer to the point of consumption. Business travel patterns may shift as a result. As the reset unfolds, travel managers can have the best of both worlds by selecting travel suppliers with global networks underpinned by local operations that provide the support and expertise tailored to the specific needs of employees in each market.
8. Fintech is in focus
BCD’s travel buyer survey revealed payment and expense to be among some of the biggest pain points when managing business travel end-to-end. Adopting fintech-based solutions can help simplify, digitize and automate corporate travel payment, reconciliation and invoice management. Travellers, travel managers and finance teams can mutually enjoy the benefits of a frictionless, digital payment experience, from trip booking and payment through reconciliation.
To learn more, the full report – entitled Business Travel Trends for 2022 – can be downloaded here.