July 16, 2024

BCD buyer survey finds less focus on traveller satisfaction

Duty of care, policy compliance and cost control have gained importance in corporate travel policies in the last 12 months but traveller satisfaction, one of the top priorities from 2021 to 2023, has become less of a priority.

These were among the findings of BCD Travel’s April 2024 survey of 211 global travel buyers’ corporate travel policies, which found that payment and expenses also ranked lower than they did a year ago.

Seven out of 10 respondents said their corporate travel policy aligns with company goals and is supported by the company’s leadership.

Six in 10 say it is cost-focused while three in 10 regard it as traveller-centric. Yet just 15% of buyers say the policy is based on key performance indicators (KPIs) and traveller feedback.

The purpose of a trip and pre-trip approval are the two most commonly covered themes in corporate travel policies.

Gaps in travel policies

Less than half of respondents said sustainable travel is included in their company policy, despite the growing importance of sustainability across the industry.

That is in line with findings of a BCD survey in July 2023 which found that just 45% of companies had set targets for sustainable business travel.

The subjects of bleisure travel, remote work and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are those least covered by company travel policies.

And despite many companies having travel policies for senior employees, frequent travellers and specific business units, only 12% have written policies for neurodivergent travellers or travellers with accessibility requirements. Fewer than one in 10 have policies addressing age, religion, gender, LGBTQ+ travellers or special needs, such as those of nursing mothers.

Challenges for travel buyers

Buyers reported that their biggest challenge when updating the corporate travel policy is educating travellers. Managing policy exceptions, managing policy across geographical regions and controlling policy compliance represented the next most significant challenges.

Communicating policy updates was most common via the company intranet and then by direct mailing, said respondents. Approximately a third said that updates were shared in the online booking tool (OBT) or during employee training. 

More than 50% of travel buyers regard their travel policy as very or extremely effective yet just one-third rate their policy communication that highly. Almost half rate the communication as moderately effective.

Enforcing travel policies

Highlighting policy-compliant travel options in the OBT, performing an audit of travel expenses and communicating travel policy changes via multiple channels are among the methods most frequently used to enforce travel policies.

“We know from experience that one of the most effective ways to communicate with travellers and influence their behaviour is to put relevant messaging directly in the booking path. It not only results in increased compliance, but also leads to a more personalised and dynamic shopping experience for the traveller,” said Teri Miller, Executive Vice President of the Global Client Team at BCD Travel.

Trends shaping travel policies

Almost two-thirds of travel buyers expect sustainability and safety and security to have the biggest impact on corporate travel policies over the coming years. Technology, New Distribution Capability (NDC), traveller wellbeing and new traveller needs are also factors identified as likely to have an impact.

Bleisure and DEI are at the bottom of the list and are not expected to play roles in changing travel policies markedly over the next few years.