CWT Again Finds Savings As Top Travel Management Priority - Business Travel News

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CWT Again Finds Savings As Top Travel Management Priority

January 31, 2014 - 09:15 AM ET

By David Jonas

Travel managers planned to prioritize in 2014 their search for "innovative ways to generate savings," according to Carlson Wagonlit Travel's latest annual study on travel management's most pressing issues. Savings also has been top of mind in the previous two years, according to CWT's research.

For the 2014 study, CWT in November 2013 collected responses from 970 travel managers worldwide, including 270 in North America. Seventy percent of both groups rated as a "high" priority finding new ways to save. Among North American respondents, 62 percent indicated as a top priority efforts to "further promote the travel program," followed by driving greater online adoption (53 percent) and optimizing "end-to-end travel processes" (43 percent). For both North American travel managers and all respondents across the global survey base, reinforcing corporate social responsibility was the least cited among seven listed travel management goals, at 17 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

"As business travel and prices grow in 2014, companies with mature travel programs will be looking to exploit opportunities for incremental savings as well as bring new areas into the scope of the program," according to CWT's report. It cited as opportunities automated airfare tracking and rebooking, consideration of public and other ground transportation options, and strategic meetings management.

The TMC also pointed to opportunities for negotiations with airlines that "take into account an estimate of the total cost of [various ancillary] fees on a company's top routes to highlight competitive gaps between carriers," and consider "any major discrepancies" in airline fuel costs and surcharges. CWT also wrote that airlines increasingly are willing to negotiate point-of-origin fares rather than point-of-ticketing fares, something that can "produce savings of several percentage points."

"In the United States, for example, point-of-origin offers are quite common among companies with accounts of over $100 million," the report noted.

In terms of travel program promotion (a top priority for 54 percent of the global survey base), CWT suggested that as travel managers push to explain program benefits, and as traveler preferences and behaviors evolve, "the culture of control" is changing, "with a perceptible shift toward "carrot rather than stick approaches." One method is to incentivize travelers for responsible booking behavior, though when asked about "game techniques," 43 percent of all survey respondents indicated they are "unsure what this implies." Fifteen percent said they're interested.

Meanwhile, CWT characterized as "respectable" the 16 percent of total respondents who identified corporate social responsibility as a top 2013 priority. The TMC has "noticed an increase in the number of environmental and ethics questions in requests for proposals," according to the report. "This increased focus on CSR is being driven partly by a stricter regulatory landscape as environmental and labor laws tighten worldwide, especially regarding carbon reporting and duty of care."

CWT added that some buyers consider "a prompt payment policy to support small to medium companies and look for ways to increase the use of local contractors." The report also suggested greater attention being paid to traveler safety and well-being, including service for "the needs of specific populations of travelers, such as people with disabilities."

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