Travel programmes are undoubtedly affected by global events, whether that’s getting business back to pre-pandemic levels to an upturn in CSR reporting. Yet there are ways travel managers can get ahead and manage these effectively. In a report published at the end of last year, we asked our senior leadership team what its business travel predictions were for this year. Here, we highlight three of their top predictions.
1) a higher priority for Diversity, equality and inclusion in travel programmes
As companies compete to attract the best employees, duty of care for their travellers remains as important as ever. Yet ensuring everyone’s diverse travel needs are met is equally key if they’re to retain that talent.
“Travel managers need to clearly consider that whatever gender, race, sexual orientation or mental and physical constraints of their travellers, they’re being well taken care of in their travel policies, that they’ll have good experiences whenever they travel,” Reed & Mackay CEO US John Keichline says.
“As a TMC, we need that diversity in travel programmes, ensuring we provide the different levels of content, from airlines, hotels, ground transportation, and everything in between, that meets everyone’s needs.”
In that case, is it likely that diversity training, from a booker and travel manager perspective, is also likely to take a higher priority in 2023?
It can be argued that a travel manager needs to be proactive in monitoring any potential shifts in deployment of individuals and we could see this more if travel managers are to place themselves further as strategic players in their business. An environment will need to be created where the onus to report on issues not being right in a particular market is not on the travellers themselves, but that travel managers proactively equip employees with the knowledge and tools to represent their organisation as inclusive to their recipients.
2) MANAGING TRAVELLER WELLBEING WILL BE AFFECTED BY The challenges of the global economic outlook and post-COVID-19 working practices
The International Monetary Fund highlighted that the global economy is ‘experiencing a broad-based and sharper-than-expected slowdown’ with ‘global growth forecast to slow from 6% in 2021 to 3.2% in 2022 and 2.7% in 2023’.
What does this mean for business travel spending, as companies deal not only with these financial challenges, but with managing hybrid and remote working and continuing to build back employee numbers after the pandemic? Will it mean their current travellers will be required to travel more? And could that have consequences on their wellbeing and mental health?
This could be an excellent chance to re-evaluate wellbeing provisions outside of the traditional workplace.
Attending business trips in the post-pandemic world is a lifestyle for which many are still unprepared, following varying levels of working from home and a year of not travelling for work. So travellers have been returning to a cycle of staying in a number of hotels, managing complex schedules of normal activities with the trip’s purpose, all within different time zones. Plus they’ll be dealing with inevitable transport delays. And, if travellers are required to do this even more, these considerations need to be applied to travel policy.
Reed & Mackay COO and CEO Europe Julie Oliver believes that traveller wellbeing will also impact the way companies report on the success of a travel programme. “Organisations will begin to look at different metrics, particularly around wellbeing,” she says. “We’re considering how we can support our clients with this, by looking at reporting holistically rather than being solely outcome focused.”
3) EFFECTIVE REPORTING OF SUSTAINABILITY TARGETS IN A TRAVEL PROGRAMME WILL GROW, THANKS TO A CHANGE IN attitudes towards sustainability
Last year witnessed some positive movement in general sustainability initiatives in the UK and Europe. And we’re likely to see the same in 2023, across the world.
One example is in Australia. Sustainability development is now more of a focus in the destination, thanks to changes in recent government policy.
Reed & Mackay Managing Director Australia David Greenland explains. “Australia had lagged behind most developed economies in this area and much of that was due to a long-serving government who didn’t have policy around sustainability, hindering progress,” he says. “Now, with a change of government to one with solid sustainability policies, we’re seeing the focus on responsible travel accelerate markedly. It’s undoubtedly one of the first things on the agenda for clients and prospects.” Which should lead to the increased need for better reporting on its impact.
There’s increased momentum in sustainability reporting in the US too. “The US was probably slightly behind Europe in the focus on sustainability but we’re now seeing it become more than a tick box element in RFPs,” Keichline says. “And clients will also want proof you’re doing the same as a trusted partner, not only with the technology we provide to measure and reduce their carbon emissions, but also from the suppliers we work with.”
Upcoming changes in legislation could also influence how sustainability targets are reported more robustly in global business travel programmes in Europe.
For example, new legislation will set a legal standard for how CO2 emissions are going to be measured in Europe, as a result of the EU’s Count Emissions EU initiative.
Oliver believes it’s a move that should be welcomed by those working in business travel. “Sustainability goals will be near the top of the agenda when measuring and reporting on a travel programme, and a standard methodology is key,” she says.
WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL AFFECT BUSINESS TRAVEL MANAGEMENT IN 2023?
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INTERESTED IN FINDING OUT MORE?
Read more business travel predictions for 2023 from our senior leadership teams for the year ahead. Download the full report here.