Nearly two thirds (62 per cent) of business travel buyers will have given travellers the freedom to book travel independently during 2014. This is according to our - The Business Travel Show's - annual buyer survey. It's an interesting statistic on its own. But when you compare it to figures from 2013 and 2012, it's instantly clear just what a massive shift in attitude and policy this is.
This move towards more traveller freedom and taking a step back from mandatory compliance is in line with an overarching industry shift towards traveller rather than travel management - dubbed as Travel Management 2.0 - and an increasing focus on traveller wellbeing and responsible travel management
In 2013, just 36 per cent of travel buyers allowed independent travel bookings. In 2012, this figure was nine per cent. Of the 62 per cent of buyers mentioned above, 51 per cent insist travellers book within policy guidelines. More eyebrow-raisingly, 11 per cent do not. Despite this, the number of travellers who never book outside policy increased from 12 per cent to 14 per cent this year and 44 per cent of buyers found it no more difficult to drive compliance in the last 12 months (42 per cent in 2013, 40 per cent in 2012).
Buyers are obviously still keen to drive compliance. Policies allow for leverage, whether's that's better costs or better deals, and the top three methods used by buyers to drive compliance are:
1. The adoption of preferred suppliers - 71 per cent
2. Educational awareness among travellers - 53 per cent
3. The use of online tools - 57 per cent
It's not all carrot, though, as it would seem some organisations are also happy to use the metaphorical stick in the pursuit of perfect policy adoption as nine per cent of buyers issue penalties to travellers who do not comply (funnily enough, nine per cent of travellers regularly go rogue) and 26 per cent incentivise travellers to book cheaper travel solutions with the budgets they are given.
Still, three quarters of buyers claim travellers book outside of policy on occasion, which matched last year’s 75 per cent, and the main drivers behind this activity were ‘personal preference’ (31 per cent) followed by price (21 per cent) and the desire to go direct (14 per cent).
If you want to find out more about Travel Management 2.0 and whether it's time your organisation loosened its policy and allowed travellers greater freedom, the Business Travel Show is running a hosted buyer session on Tuesday 24 February called Travel Management 2.0 in Action. It's not to be missed.
This post was written by Natalie Whittaker of the Business Travel Show. You can contact her on Twitter @Natalie_BTS. Registration is now open for the Business Travel Show here.