July 13, 2024

ITM trends survey shows biggest buyer concerns

Access to full content/NDC will be the biggest challenge buyers face in managing travel in 2024, according to ITM’s latest trends survey.

The majority of buyers (75%) stated it was their biggest concern and 66% said they are not confident that they will have access to the airline content they need in 2024.

ITM’s latest trends survey shows online booking tools will be the other dominant issues for travel managers in 2024.

Most buyers (75%) are dissatisfied with fulfilment across several content-related areas such as displaying non-GDS content, capturing off programme bookings (70%), rail content (73%), and seamless air/rail policy inclusion. 

OBT optimisation was ranked the highest priority for the second consecutive year, followed by duty of care, budget control and sustainable practice collectively in second place.

Access to full content rose from sixth place to joint second place for 2024.

For the first time, the poll also surveyed 200 supplier members of ITM and asked them what they believed would be buyers’ top priorities.

Interestingly they selected budget control as the number one and placed OBT optimisation in sixth place.

However, buyers and suppliers were aligned on other key priorities such as sustainable practice, duty of care and ensuring full content access.

Scott Davies, CEO, ITM, said: “It’s encouraging to see that suppliers in general are aligned in terms of understanding buyer priorities as they included the same issues in their top five. However there was a discrepancy in the way they ranked them, with suppliers assuming that price would come top for buyers. The key takeaway for suppliers should be that it’s not all about cost.  Buyers have a much more challenging and wide-ranging remit influencing their priorities.”

The 2024 ITM Trending Survey, supported by American Express GBT, was conducted over two weeks at the end of November 2023 among over 100 corporate travel buyers, managers and heads of travel, with a mix of global, EMEA, UK and Ireland responsibilities.

Other buyer survey findings include:

  • Expense integration and payment solutions moved up three places from last year to rank eighth, managing supply chain points of failure/service issues moved down one place to rank ninth.
  • 36% of respondents are planning to increase their travel budget year on year in 2024; 38% will keep budget at the same level. The remaining 26% will see a decrease.
  • The economic environment and cost of travel will have the biggest negative impact on travel volumes in 2024 (ranked by 67% of buyers, against 57% last year), followed by sustainability/net zero targets (15% of buyers, versus 11% last year)
  • Sustainability requirements will also increase – 52% of respondents said that suppliers must comply with carbon emissions reporting (up from 39% in 2023); and 35% of buyer require science-based targets (up from 23% last year)
  • In terms of RFPs, the survey results suggest that there is a lower propensity for buyers to go to full tender for their TMC (19%). However, the accommodation sector will see 45% of buyers go to full RFP. For air programmes, the preferred approach is targeted negotiations (43%).

For suppliers, challenges in the next 12 months fall into the following key areas: rising costs due to inflation, global economic uncertainty and tighter corporate travel budgets; talent shortages, recruitment and training new staff; and access to full content, not just NDC, but also sustainability data required by corporates.

The commercial objective for most suppliers (64%) in 2024 is revenue, whilst 13% are looking to gain market share.

Suppliers are also investing heavily in the corporate travel sector – 71% have increased their investment versus a year ago, and 58% have grown their commercial headcount.