As the region’s economy continue to grow, Asian businesses are looking to their travel managers to find ways of saving money on travel, to make booking processes slicker and to integrate expense management into their travel policies.
Simultaneously, changes in business travellers and travel managers’ needs have created a demand for personalised products and consumer technologies far superior to those used for personal travel.
Whilst 5G networks have transformed connectivity across Asia, business travellers have a huge array of mobile apps to choose from. As well as WeChat in China, others like LINE, KakaoTalk, Grab, and Go-Jek have added travel booking functionality to their apps alongside mobility options, food delivery and payments – tailor-made for business travellers.
Many corporates are adopting a more cost-conscious approach to travel. Cost savings are the primary focus for 65% of TMCs across the region. A third of travel managers across Asia have seen premium economy bookings increase by 5% during 2019. One in four has seen a significant increase in the use of LCCs whilst a staggering 40% of bookings have been downgrades from business to economy.
The risks female travellers face are rising to the top of the corporate agenda. Yet just 18% of corporate travel safety policies specifically address female safety needs.
Changes in traveller behaviour are also evidenced by 76% of travel managers reporting the widespread use of Online Travel Agents (OTA) and other consumer websites instead of using specified company booking channels. The need for Asian businesses to maximise travel policy compliance has never been greater. No wonder 32% of travel managers across Asia see mobile booking capabilities as essential.
The consumerisation of business travel has given travel managers the tools to capture all bookings, manage compliance and ensure their travellers are safe. The challenge lies in changing travellers’ behaviours to reap the full benefits of travel policy compliance.
What needs to change?
It’s relatively easy to identify business traveller behaviours that need to change. Booking out of policy, whether by choosing non-preferred vendors or booking through OTAs, direct with vendors or other channels only renders spend less visible, denies a company the opportunity to leverage that spend, and also compromises the employer’s duty of care to the traveler.
Travel policies which force travellers into choices that adversely impact work/life balance, physical or mental health and company productivity (because the traveller is too tired to realise the trip’s objectives) also have to change in order to generate compliance.
How to change behaviours
1. Understand how people book business travel – and why.
2. Implement an online booking tool that will capture and analyse data to provide actionable insights into any changes and improve traveler satisfaction.
3. Understand who your travellers are and what they want from the travel programme. Then make sure your travel policy meets their needs, as well as those of the business.
4. Implement an integrated travel & expense management tool, improving automation and enhanced policy control within the booking tool, and respond to traveller needs.
5. Include travel feedback and reviews in the booking platform. 80% of corporate travellers rate peer or colleague recommendations as the most trusted source of advice.
6. Reduce air travel costs by consolidating suppliers, discouraging late or booking on the day of travel and encouraging the use of lowest logical fare.
7. Encourage your travellers to arrange meetings at times that enable them to travel outside peak period.
8. Explain to your travellers how the level of amenities in many cheaper or non-chain hotels are just as good as other up-scale properties.
9. Consider rewarding or incentivising travelers to book within policy.
10. Allow travellers to book bleisure (combined business and holiday) trips within travel policy.
11. Keep travellers safe and informed through a duty of care programme comprising pre-trip assessment; up-to-date destination intelligence; the ability to locate a traveller and real-time communication tools.
How TMC can help
More and more TMCs and travel managers across Asia are working collaboratively to create smooth, consistent and concise booking experiences for their travellers. By combining data-driven insights with traveller engagement tactics, they are driving change through innovative approaches, products and content.
TMCs are ideally positioned to drive change because of their skill in connecting technology with travel management. By channelling the TMC’s revenue management and reporting capabilities, the client relationship becomes a strategic partnership