July 16, 2024

SAP Concur report: Trips declined due to travel disruption

The majority of global business travellers have been significantly impacted by travel disruptions over the past year and 88% have been forced to take unanticipated steps because of unexpected delays, cancellations or the need to reroute.

This is according to the sixth annual SAP Concur Global Business Travel Survey, which records responses from 3,750 business travellers in 24 countries.

A demographic breakdown of respondents reveals that more younger travellers were forced to take unanticipated steps – 68% of boomers compared with 82% of Gen X business travellers, 90% of Millennials and 94% from Gen Z.

This may be due to varying levels of experience of business travel but also reflects generational differences in proactively building extra time into trips.

Declining business trips

Safety concerns are the biggest reason that business travellers decline business trips (44%) and 29% of respondents are willing to decline a business trip due to the likelihood of delays or cancellations. Safety concerns relating to the mode of transportation required would see 33% of respondents decline a trip.

Delays impact employees’ work-life balance. Nearly two in five (38%) of respondents have had to cancel or reschedule meetings and more have had to spend additional, unplanned days on a business trip (38%) or sit through longer or additional layovers (33%).

The survey reveals that business travellers are frustrated at losing personal time due to missed connections. Four in five (80%) proactively take steps to account for such events, including booking extra time for arrival (34%), departure (19%) or both (27%).

Reduced flexibility

Employees feel they are continuing to struggle with a lack of flexibility from budget cuts and equal opportunities to take business trips.

Nearly all business travellers (91%) have seen their company cut back on allowing certain options in the past 12 months. That includes cutbacks on allowing remote work while travelling for pleasure to avoid taking leave days (27%) or adding personal travel to a business trip (25%).  

Almost a quarter (22%) of respondents said that they’re willing to decline a business trip that doesn’t allow them to extend it for personal travel.  

Companies have also cut back on comfort-focused requests. These include staying overnight to avoid a long day of travel for a day trip (28%), paying more to get a non-stop flight or direct route (28%), using business or premium class (27%) or using options like taxis or ride-share apps rather than public transportation (27%).  

Equal opportunities for business travel

Slightly higher than the 62% in the 2023 survey, 66% of global business travellers responded that they felt they hadn’t had as equal opportunity as colleagues to take business trips. That inequity is attributed to reasons including their level of seniority (19%), age (18%), status as a parent or caretaker (14%), where they live (14%), physical appearance (12%), how often they come into the office (12%), gender (11%) and accent (11%). 

Certain reasons are slightly more of a factor for women than men, including age (20% of women compared to 17% of men), status as a parent (17% against 13%) and gender (14% compared to 9%). More men say they’ve never felt that they didn’t have equal opportunity for business travel (38% compared to 29% of women).  

More LGBTQ+ business travellers expressed the sentiment that they feel they haven’t had equal opportunity because of their physical appearance (20% compared to 12% of the general population), disability (14% compared to 8%) and sexual orientation (20% as against 7%).