Flexibility crucial for today's business travelers

Monday, January 28, 2013

Flexibility crucial for today's business travelers

Even the most methodically planned business trip can be derailed by last-minute adjustments or cancelations. While alternatives to corporate suites in chain hotels such as serviced apartments and corporate housing provide executives with the adaptability they need in today's fast-paced business world, other aspects of corporate travel can be more challenging to manage. A recent report published by Amadeus revealed the changing face of business travel in the U.K., and an emphasis on flexibility and technology was a highlight of the study.

Changes on the fly
According to Breaking Travel News, one of the key findings of the Amadeus study was that the prevalence of technology in the business travel sector is having a profound impact on itinerary change management. More than half of respondents surveyed by Amadeus said they had to make last-minute changes to their travel plans while on the road, with an additional 37 percent indicating such amendments were necessary with regard to flights. Simultaneously, only 30 percent of executives polled believed their organization's corporate travel management team had done an effective job of managing such changes, meaning there is significant potential for third-party service providers to offer technological solutions to unexpected changes to travelers' itineraries.

Additionally, frequent business travelers were more likely to change their plans while on the road. Approximately one third of executives said they had to amend their itineraries while traveling last year, but this figure increased to more than half of individuals who took 11 trips or more during 2012, with almost one in five travelers going "off-plan" at least five times during the year.

"These findings clearly identify opportunities for travel departments to introduce new services and technologies that will deliver additional value to travelers," said Diane Bouzebiba, managing director of Amadeus U.K. & Ireland, as quoted by the news source. "Putting their expertise in the hands of corporate travelers and exploring mobile technology to facilitate the planning, booking and amendment of travel arrangements, will go a long way to help keep travelers on plan, safe and better connected in 2013 and beyond."

Adapting to the new norm
While operational efficiency is a top priority for many organizations, implementing new business travel policies and procedures can be both costly and time-consuming. For this reason, some companies have been reluctant to embrace new software and protocols designed to reduce the cost of business travel without compromising on the happiness and productivity of frequent travelers. However, according to new data from Travel Leaders Corporate, overall costs of business travel declined in 2012, expanding the potential for the streamlining of existing procedures and saving money.

Business Travel News reports that, according to the travel management company, total sequential costs for domestic business travel in the U.S. actually declined last year, despite slight increases in the cost of accommodations, vehicle rental and associated expenses.

The total price of a domestic business trip in the U.S. decreased by approximately 1 percent in 2012. Factors included in this calculation included accommodation rates, vehicle rental fees and airfare. Officials at Travel Leaders Corporate said that overall costs of trips booked through the travel management company declined for three consecutive quarters last year for the first time since 2010.

While this is likely to be welcome news for clients of Travel Leaders, the results of the study highlight the ongoing need for executives to make smart decisions about where to stay when traveling both domestically and overseas. Companies who need to reduce expenditure on accommodations may want to explore alternatives such as corporate furnished apartments and corporate lodging. These options offer executives unparalleled service, flexibility and the quality they expect from corporate lodging without stretching travel budgets to the breaking point.