With people returning to the sky for business travel, it’s time for companies to ensure they are prepared for business travel, 2022 style.
As restrictions ease around the world, work travel is on the rise again. The numbers don’t lie: data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) shows passenger numbers had reached 47 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels by December 2021, a significant increase from October 2021 (17 percent), with passenger numbers continuing the upward trajectory to 50 percent by January 2022 .
While the return to travel is welcome, there are a number of changes business leaders responsible for travel and expense management should know about before they get back on track, according to Fabian Calle, director for small and medium-sized businesses (Australia and New Zealand), SAP® Concur®†
SAP Concur, which manages business, travel and invoice automation, recently surveyed business travelers who work at companies with fewer than 1,000 employees and found the following trends:
1. Ask, ask, ask
Research of SAP Concur shows that 95 percent of travelers are willing to travel for business in the next 12 months, and 63 percent say they are very willing. Of these, 66 percent say they are the ones who actively want to travel, as opposed to their company insisting on it.
With limited flight numbers and heightened public health protocols impacting travelers seeking a smooth journey, the airport experience itself says it all.
“On a recent return trip from Melbourne to Sydney, the security check-in line – at both airports – was the longest I’ve ever seen,” Calle told Startup Daily.
While we wait for a return to full flight schedules, Calle says companies can provide their workforce with tools to smooth out this period of heightened demand.
“A travel aid like TripIt, which is free for personal travelers, is one way to do this,” he suggests. “Companies can then use the same tools for their workforce, who expect similar experiences in technology, both personally and professionally.”
The influx of demand also requires efficient management to ensure that business results are not taken by surprise by the inevitable spike in travel costs.
“SAP Concur captures travel and booking data regardless of where it is booked. Not only does this provide flexibility for staff booking or travel changes, it also allows the company to leverage advanced travel and other expense reporting tools, and use the captured data to provide insights that can lead to better business decisions,” explains Calle.
Global Giant Serco is an example of a company that used SAP Concur to manage its travel expenses and improve booking compliance. This saved the company $2.2 million (AUD) in efficiency savings in the first 12 months.
2. Flexibility is how we roll…or fly
Traveler demand for flexibility exceeded vaccination-related requirements by 70 percent versus 55 percent in the SAP Concur study. Calle says more than two-thirds of respondents want their company to relax restrictions to accommodate better, flexibility-oriented policies, if not a return to pre-COVID-19 travel policies.
In an increasingly mobile world, it’s vital to use software that allows employees to make changes to their devices anywhere, which can still be captured and saved for scheduling purposes, regardless of location.
“Travel is a very personal thing and we all have our individual preferences, from aisle seat or window seat to the row or back of the plane. By letting people choose their preferred way of flying and controlling policy-based options through technology, it not only helps build loyalty among staff by demonstrating trust and duty of care, but also helps companies understand spending. ”, advises Calle.
Thanks to technology like SAP Concur, employees can easily access advanced tools and resources to do everything they need to, from changing reservations on the go and sharing consolidated itineraries to finding up-to-date information about delays and disruptions.
Because this can all be done on your mobile, it helps with other business expenses too: travelers can submit expense reports on the go, and automated approvals help managers respond faster to review requests where they are.
3. Health and safety should be first class
More than half (53 percent) of travelers surveyed said they would make changes if their business didn’t take steps to protect their health and safety.
This can range from keeping staff informed with tips and insights about what to expect at the airport, to information about COVID-19 protocols in the cities and countries teams visit.
“Every company comes out of the COVID-19 era with very different options about what staff should or should not do. We have some clients who require staff to be fully vaccinated to enter their own offices, while others offer more flexibility around evidence of negative tests,” Calle said.
“Our travel tools provide up-to-date information on certain conditions that must be met at their destination. In some cases, travel reviews are also provided through duty of care applications.”
By making this extra effort, you can retain the workforce to a great extent want to travel for your company – especially in this current climate of talent shortage issues.
4. Sa lot of time – and the planet
The pandemic has highlighted the impact of travel on the environment, contributing to increased societal demand to take steps to reduce our global impact. Unsurprisingly, 60 percent of travelers surveyed expect to make changes that improve the sustainability of travel.
So when booking and managing travel for work, companies can improve their footprint by looking at the carbon costs of various travel choices, or even the carbon offsets of the costs. These efforts can then be easily translated into tradable metrics to communicate a company’s green performance.
On a day-to-day level, going paperless is a good start. For example, SAP Concur allows users to submit electronic receipts directly into expense reports, saving travelers time and eliminating errors from manual processes.
“COVID taught – or forced – us to work remotely and stressed to many companies that they were unaware of the available technology that can truly connect their workforce and business processes”, concludes Calle.
Get insight into your business travel and expenses now on concur.com.au†
This article is brought to you by Startup Daily and sponsored by SAP Concur.
Feature Image: AdobeStock