As a business traveler, I’m sure you have found yourself asking why your company has you fly a certain airline, stay in a hotel that doesn’t give you the frequent traveler points you want, and why you need to book the entire trip through a designated travel agency.

Well, chances are your company has a travel policy that has been established not only to save the company money; travel has been ranked the second or third largest controllable expense in many companies, but because your safety while traveling for them on business is a top priority and these providers can do just that.

For over a year now there have been rumblings in our industry that there is a change coming from within.  Companies are re-evaluating their travel policies to determine how they can best strike a balance between accommodating the increasing number of tech-savvy, mobile employees who travel for business, while still maintaining the overall lowest prices with contracted vendors, and ensuring their Duty of Care obligation is met.

"Consumers have had tremendous success when booking their personal travel and as a result are confident and savvy in their search and book capabilities."

The gap between leisure and business travel

As an industry we have witnessed the gap between leisure and business travel narrow at an exponential rate thanks to technology and increased mobility. Consumers have had tremendous success when booking their personal travel and as a result are confident and savvy in their search and book capabilities.  Many of you reading this have likely put your skills to the test for a business trip (or two) just to see if you can do a better job than your company’s travel policy permits.

Yes, often rogue business travelers have found exactly what they want and within the same overall trip price. So why not let business travelers book where they want, fly at the time of day they want, on the airline of their choice, and stay in the hotel that gives them the most frequent traveller points if all costs are the same?

The answer is not as clear as you would think it could be.  Yes, travel providers (airlines, hotels, rental car, travel agencies and more) recognized the need to meet this demand and have developed the tools required to help Travel Managers in company’s strike that balance referenced earlier.  However, the change from within is a complicated process for many companies and cannot happen overnight, so be patient. 

Some corporate cultures are not ready to adopt this plan because what they have in place works well, while other companies are simply unable to consider this due to the sheer nature of their business and the regions of the world their business travelers frequent. 

Leveraging consumer behaviour

Of the Travel Mangers I spoke with recently, many of them support this shift in practice because it allows business travelers to leverage their consumer behaviour to produce enterprise cost savings while the Travel Manager is able to manage the company’s vendor commitments, maintain cost-effective pricing, and ensure their Duty of Care obligation.  

After twenty-plus years in this profession, I am excited to be a part of this change from within.  I hope you find this Business Travel Special Report of interest.  Support your company’s travel policy and rest assured, that your Travel Manager is committed to meeting the company’s objectives and yours as a business traveler.  Despite advances in technology, corporate change doesn’t happen as quickly as a tweet or a text.