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Corporate Travel 2016: What makes a trend a trend?

Corporate Travel 2016: What makes a trend a trend?

Neu-Isenburg, 30/03/2016

Travel managers and business travelers assess the impact of social and technological trends on business travel very differently // This year’s International Travel Management Study by AirPlus shows that many travel managers have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to technology issues

Trends important to business travel are rated quite differently by travelers and travel managers. For 54 percent of the business travelers surveyed (and only 37 percent of the travel managers), social networks are creating the current key trends in travel. Given the growing number of social media options, this significant percentage of travelers expect a greater sharing of knowledge among themselves about travel providers and their services. In contrast, the majority of travel managers, at 52 percent, see globalization as being the social trend that most heavily impacts their work in the company. Most travel managers are anticipating more business travel and growth in volume because of increasing globalization. These differing assessments of trends influence expectations on both sides of corporate travel management.

Diverging assessments
“Travel managers should devote more attention to social media activities,” concluded Michael Fürer, Director Sales Germany at AirPlus International. “Travelers actively use these channels anyway while traveling. This gives rise to opportunities that travel management should not miss out on.”

In many other findings of the International Travel Management Study, conducted annually by the international market researcher 2hm on behalf of AirPlus, the opinions of business travelers and travel managers vary – such as on the topics of data security, big data, sharing economy or environmentally friendly travel: While 47 percent of the travelers assume that these are already mainstream, only 33 percent of those responsible for corporate travel think likewise. Similarly conflicting is the picture in answer to the question if these trends have any consequence on business travel. 75 percent of the business travelers questioned answered “yes”, whereas only 62 percent of the travel managers answered in the same vein.

Differences in the perception of travelers and travel managers also arise with regard to developments specifically associated with business travel: Virtual or mobile payment methods, special travel apps or the changed travel habits of a new generation of business travelers. With almost all of these trends, business travelers assess the importance higher than travel managers. “The results of the study show that travel managers have some catching up to do particularly when it comes to technology trends,” said Michael Fürer. “For those responsible for travel planning, it is important that they are aware of the mindset of their travelers and come to grips with the latest technological and social trends in their field. Only then can travel managers understand the needs of their travelers and provide them with solutions that correspond to their requirements.”

Travel budgets influence the assessment
The study also revealed that travel managers in companies with particularly high travel budgets tend to be more open to digital trends such as mobile or virtual payment methods or changed travel habits. 43 percent of the travel managers in this customer group assess virtual payment as a key influential factor. In other customer segments, though, it was only 36 percent of those responsible for business travel.

National differences
Nevertheless, the gap between German travel managers and business travelers in many trends appears to be less than in other countries. German travel managers ascribe greater relevance to mobile payment (44 percent – the same as with the Dutch) and business travel apps (52 percent) trends than their international colleagues. The topic of data security also plays a greater role for travel managers in Germany, at 87 percent, than in other countries.

Interesting results have come out of the newly industrialized country of India: Here, when compared internationally, most travel managers questioned gave greater significance to the changed travel habits of Generation Y. This can be explained demographically by the many young business people in this emerging economy.

Anne Dreesen
AirPlus International
Phone: +49 (0) 61 02. 2 04 - 72 61

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