Today’s hyper-connected travelers expect flexible business travel programs. Successful programs will focus on the individual traveler – but few corporations are ready to implement.

Amsterdam – Thursday, October 27, 2016 – A new research-based report published today by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) and American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) reveals how the behaviour and priorities of today’s business travellers are evolving. It also explores how corporations can adapt managed travel programmes to fulfil the needs and expectations of contemporary business travellers.

The report, entitled Meet the modern business traveller, is based on a research poll of 250 corporate travel managers and buyers.  The findings make it clear that the modern business travellers care about quality of life, demand a better work-life balance and expect a personalised business travel experience.

Rising interest in quality of life issues

The report explores how the priorities of modern business travellers are evolving. Nearly half (48%) of travel managers surveyed have seen an increase in work-life balance concerns over the last three years, with a similarly high proportion (42%) seeing an increase in requests by business travellers to combine business and leisure (42%). Others have seen requests to bring a family member on a business trip (28%), or for time in lieu (23%).

While quality of life continues to be a concern for many business travellers, it is not the biggest priority: almost two thirds (65%) of travel managers reported an increase in inquiries about personal safety over the past three years.

Growing appetite for non-traditional travel

Of the 250 corporate travel managers and buyers surveyed, more than three quarters (79%) have seen an increase in the use of app-based ground transportation over the last three years, while almost half (48%) have seen an increase in ride-share services (48%), and 40% in sharing economy accommodation. Over the same period, 34% have seen decreases in the use of premium black cars, and a 24% drop in traditional car hire use.

Flying habits have been changing too: nearly half (49%) report growth in the usage of low-cost carriers (LCCs) alongside a 23% increase in network carriers, which suggests modern travellers are increasingly mixing their standard of air travel.

The challenge for corporations

Many corporations are beginning to adapt travel programmes to match the profile of the modern business traveller. Over half those surveyed (54%) have tightened their policy on personal safety, while more than a third (36%) are about to, or are considering, policy changes. Travel managers remain split on sharing economy services: 25% provide sharing economy ground transport options [in policy], while 30% don’t. Just 9% offer sharing accommodation, with 59% saying they have no plans to introduce it.

Improved productivity was cited as the main objectives for improving the traveller experience by 39% of survey respondents, while one-quarter said it was key to being an attractive employer. Only 14% said revenue generation was their key objective. But there is evidence that corporations often have a mismatch between key performance indicators (KPIs) and objectives. The majority of travel managers cited savings (90%) as their top KPI, followed by compliance (86%), traveller satisfaction (68%), traveller productivity (30%), traveller wellness (29%), work-life balance (24%), and traveller retention (20%).

The size of the prize: enabling happier, more productive travellers

Commenting on the report’s findings, Philip Haxne, Regional Director EMEA, Global Business Consulting at American Express Global Business Travel, said: “Business travellers, and business travel, have evolved – the days of the road warrior are over. Today, a managed travel policy and programme can only really be successful if the emotions, desires and habits of the modern business traveller are understood. Only by adapting to the modern business traveller can businesses attract and retain top talent, while increasing productivity.”

He continued: “To make this a reality, corporations should take advantage of today’s powerful technology to enable choice and personalisation in the travel experience.”

Greeley Koch, Executive Director of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, said: “Modern business travellers travel for two reasons: to meet their corporate objectives and to support their life’s objectives. For a growing number, the first is meaningless if it doesn’t contribute to the second. Traveller centricity is the link connecting work-life balance, increased traveller performance, and accomplished corporate objectives — without the loss of savings.”

About American Express Global Business Travel 

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) equips companies of all sizes with the insights, tools, services and expertise they need to keep their travelers safe, focused and productive while on the road. With approximately 12,000 employees and operations in nearly 120 countries worldwide, GBT empowers customers to take control of their travel programs, optimizing the return on their travel and meetings investments, while, more importantly, providing extraordinary traveller care.

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American Express Global Business Travel (“GBT”) is a joint venture that is not wholly-owned by American Express Company or any of its subsidiaries (“American Express”). “American Express Global Business Travel”, “American Express” and the American Express logo are trademarks of American Express, and are used under limited license.

Media Contacts:             

Liz Alexander
Kwittken (London)
+44 7811 378 040
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Jessica Nelson
Kwittken (New York)
+1 646 747 7141
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Martin Ferguson
American Express Global Business Travel
Director of Communications & Public Affairs
+44 7789 816 523
[email protected]

Jack Riepe
ACTE Communications Officer
+1 610.256.0124
[email protected]