Cost Saving A Real Challenge for Business Travel Managers: Stats

There’s no putting the brakes on the way business travelers view and utilize ground transportation. That’s according to the latest report from FreeNow, "Europe’s Mobility Super App," and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the world’s largest business travel association.

In this new report, “Ground Transportation in Europe”, GBTA and FreeNow continue to examine the ways European business travelers and travel managers in seven key markets assess and use various modes of ground transport, drawing comparisons to similar research the two organizations conducted in 2020.

“This is the second time we’ve collaborated with GBTA to survey business travel managers and travelers to stay at the forefront of ground transportation trends and deliver industry leading insights to the business travel community,” said Fabio Griemens, director B2B operations, FreeNow for Business. “Cost saving is a real challenge for business travel managers at the moment with 43 percent listing it as a pain point. This is likely related to the inflation of fuel prices: 50 percent of business travelers also stated rising cost of fuel had impacted their business travel over the last year.”

“As life continues to recover and ultimately change after the pandemic, we’re seeing parallels in how the global business travel industry experiences this transformation as well,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA. “This kind of research continues to shed light on both travel manager capabilities and business traveler expectations so providers can ultimately tailor their offerings to succeed in this ever-evolving model.”

Key research findings include:

  • Sustainability soars…sometimes. Almost 40 percent of European travel managers said their company’s approach to ground transportation is more focused on sustainability and eco-friendly vehicles compared to 2019. However, business travelers' priorities differ, with their ranking being cost savings, comfort and then sustainability. Business travelers are also willing to take actions to reduce carbon emissions generated by ground transportation. For example, most European business travelers say they would be willing to rent a smaller car or take public transport more often. 
  • More choices. While managed business travel programs in Europe utilize a variety of ground transportation options like rental cars, long-distance trains, public transport and taxis, more travel programs address newer ground transportation options than in 2020, including carsharing (68 percent vs. 54 percent), eScooters (58 percent vs. 42 percent) and eBikes (57 percent vs. 44 percent).
  • Enforcement vs. satisfaction. When asked to indicate the top three strengths of their ground transport program (out of seven), travel managers cite policy enforcement, traveler safety/duty of care, cost savings and ease of payment/expense management. However, they also recognize the challenges and pain points of their programs. The top three pain points include traveler satisfaction, reporting/spending visibility and sustainability.
  • Amenities through technology. Business travelers appreciate the convenience of ride-hailing apps, citing ease of booking, shorter wait times and cost as important advantages and especially value when their company has a contract with a provider that allows them exclusive features, such as automatic receipt importation for expense reporting.
  • Public transportation on the rise. On average, travel managers say 30 percent of their company's ground transport spend is on public transportation, with approximately 20 percent of the spend allocated to traditional taxis and 14 percent to private hire vehicles. For comparison, the 2020 GBTA-FreeNow study found average spending on public transport accounted for just 16 percent of ground transportation spend and 18 percent on private hire vehicles, which suggests increased sustainability efforts in travel programs. 
  • Variety is preferred. More than half (53 percent) of travel managers surveyed expressed interest in contracting with companies that offer multiple modes of ground transport products and services such as rental cars, carsharing, private hire vehicles/ride-shares, eScooters and eBikes. 
  • Tracking difficulty. Half of travel managers feel it is more difficult to track carbon emissions from ground transportation compared to other categories. In addition, a significant number of travel managers are unsure of the percentage of electric vehicle bookings for ridesharing (40 percent), rental cars (24 percent) or limos/chauffeured cars (49 percent), indicating an information gap when it comes to gauging the efficacy of sustainability initiatives.

Data collection took place via an online survey of GBTA active and inactive travel buyers from June 29 to July 31 and on July 15-18 for business travelers who had taken at least one business trip in the past 12 months. Respondents were based in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Poland, with 105 buyers and 740 business travelers completing the survey.

Research experts from GBTA and FreeNow will be presenting the report’s findings in person at the GBTA Europe Conference, occurring November 14-16, 2023 in Hamburg, Germany.    

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