Business travel is essential, not only for the health of your company, but also for the health of humanity and our global communities. As we look ahead to the year ahead, we are optimistic about the prospect of an uptick in business travel and what that could mean for driving progress around the world.
To help our customers navigate what’s ahead, we’ve compiled key trends that will impact corporate travel programs this year in our Business Travel in 2022 and Beyond report. Here, we explore how some of those trends are shaping travel programs and their traveling employees.
Download the “Business Travel in 2022 and beyond” report for our full recommendations.
Travelers must be informed of changes in travel policies
While travel policies are constantly under review, the pandemic has pushed this task onto the corporate agenda. According to a survey of 700 travel managers from around the world last year, all expected their corporate travel policies to change in the next 12 months. The top policy changes cited were real-time updates and alerts on potential travel risks (54%) and pre-travel vaccination requirements (51%).
Significant attention has also been placed on making the pre-trip approval processes more robust to drive greater visibility and management of the program.
Adjusting policy to fit the new normal is just the first step. Amendments should then be communicated to travelers, through multiple channels and stakeholders, to facilitate change management.
And it’s not just traveling employees who need to know about policy updates. With travel rules constantly evolving in this environment, travel managers need tools and technology that can keep travelers informed at every stage. Such support is essential to increase their confidence and well-being when they are away from home.
Prepare travelers for a volatile travel experience
With limited data available for planning, airlines have been making broad assumptions about demand, capacity and schedules, refining them as the demand curve develops. This scenario could ultimately result in flight cancellations or delays.
As a result of reduced capacity, travelers are faced with the inconvenience of less choice of flight times and routes. Lighter schedules and networks can mean problems for operational reliability and create other problems at airports, with reduced services and fewer staff to process travelers at check-in, security and border control.
Fewer flights and less route coverage will also mean less choice and more competition for the same flights.
We recommend that travel managers work to recalibrate travelers’ expectations to help them adapt to such challenges. You can remind them to book early so they have a better chance of getting a seat on their desired flight. For a smoother experience, also encourage them to arrive at the airport early and remind them of the support your organization’s travel management company can offer during flight disruptions .
Find ways to save on accommodation
Hotel demand and average daily rate (ADR) in the US are expected to almost fully recover in 2022 . Forecasts for other geographic areas, including the United Kingdom , the Middle East and North Africa , and Asia Pacific , are also promising.
According to internal data from American Express Global Business Travel, ADR improvement has been especially strong in the luxury/premium category as guests (including tourists competing for the same rooms as business travelers) return to hotels. in major metropolitan centers.
As ADR levels recover, travel managers may not see any opportunity to reduce fares and fares may increase.
A way to combat rising rates? Encourage travelers to use an online booking tool that prioritizes a company’s preferred partners in search, and to book hotel options that offer a discount or special offer. For example, through our enhanced relationship with Expedia , we now extend Expedia business rates to all customers. These special rates include same-day cancellation and at least one discount or additional service, such as late check-out, parking or breakfast.
Alert travelers to rental car shortage
The car shortage experienced in 2021 will continue into 2022. There simply aren’t enough cars to meet corporate demand . The problem stemmed from the early days of the pandemic when many rental companies sold off excess vehicles and then shifted inventory from traditional business locations to vacation spots. But the biggest factor in car shortages over the next year will come from the global semiconductor shortage and its impact on car production. Analysts predict that the computer chip crisis could last until 2023 .
As a result of this series of impediments, we can expect car rental prices to increase and vehicle selection to decrease. Travel managers must make employees aware of this reality and promote other modes of transportation where available. If an alternative is not feasible, travelers should book as soon as possible to secure a vehicle.
Promote environmental, social and compliance initiatives
The research finds that consumers increasingly want products that they believe have good environmental, social and compliance (ESG) standards across the value chain. In the last two years, increasing pressure on business has pushed sustainability high on the business agenda. We are also seeing more companies make diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) a key business priority. Subsequently, corporate travel managers and meeting planners are increasingly adopting ESG initiatives in their programs.
To support sustainability goals, travel managers can encourage employees to book hotels that meet green certification standards , select flights on lower-emitting aircraft, and switch from plane to train when feasible. If the company’s online booking tool promotes green options, this can be an effective solution for influencing travelers’ decisions at the point of sale.
Similarly, travel and meeting managers can advertise internally the partnerships they have forged with various vendors to inspire employees to book with those companies. Every dollar spent with an SME catering, accommodation, conference venue or chauffeur service can help that business grow stronger – just another way that bringing people together can drive progress.
Discover the trends that will shape your travel decisions this year by downloading the report today .
On April 21, 2021, we will also offer two webinars on this same topic, one for participants in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and one for those in North America , for which you can register. Both sessions will be led by Raksa Ouk, Vice President of Digital Strategy, and Tonya Hempstead, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion.