BTN Editor Elizabeth West moderates Liberty Mutual’s Michelle DeCosta, ACT’s Jennifer Steinke and Roadmap’s Jeroen van Velzen
Global Business Travel Association is planning to take a closer look at certain
elements of a study it released in May partly because of concern that it gives
the impression there's no savings in managing travel.
on a survey of 1,788 business travelers, the Global Business Traveler study
found that while U.S. business travelers spend $2,740 on average per trip and
stay 3.6 nights, "those under mandated programs spend more ($3,663) but
stay a fewer number of nights (3.4), compared to those in unmanaged programs
($2,457, 3.9 nights)."
bother," consultant Scott Gillespie has been asking, "if unmanaged
travelers achieve better business trips, are more satisfied with their business
travel—and here’s the kicker—don’t spend any more than their managed traveler
and co-author Evan Konwiser have been speaking and writing about what they call
Managed Travel 2.0, partly basing the rationale for a new, more
"open" approach to managing travel on these GBTA results. However,
GBTA Foundation vice president for research Joe Bates in an interview last
month cautioned against drawing the conclusions that Gillespie and Konwiser have.
this study, we didn't control for certain types of programs with all the other
variables at play," said Bates. "For instance, managed programs tend
to have a higher proportion of international travel and average spend per trip
for an international trip is many times higher than for a domestic trip. That's
just one element that can very easily make those numbers come out higher."
that were grouped into GBTA's "mandated" category tended to be much
larger than those in the "unmanaged" category, but with regard to the
average trip spend data, researchers "didn't control for the size of
company," said Bates. "Smaller companies of course are typically less
likely to have international travel and I think they tend to have slightly more
restrictive policies. I'm very much generalizing here, but larger companies and
multinationals are more likely to allow different classes of service, not just
for air travel but hotel as well."
isn't buying it: "It's not surprising GBTA would like to try to
reinterpret the data or get answers it would rather have," he said.
"The findings are fascinating in part because they are so inconsistent
with everyone's belief system about managed travel being cost-effective."
also wasn't swayed by the possibility that companies with managed programs—that
tend to be bigger, and would then perhaps travel internationally more—might
also tend to more frequently pay for premium classes.
they took a business-class or first-class or economy seat in my view doesn't
matter for the purposes of drawing the conclusion that unmanaged travelers are
more sensitive to their corporate budgets than managed travelers," said
Gillespie. "Yes, you'll get a different answer if you control for cabin
and quality of the hotel, but that's a different question. We're talking about
how people manage their budgets and these unmanaged travelers are showing more
cost-sensitivity than their managed counterparts. I'm presuming that, yes, they
probably used a higher proportion of economy seats than the mandated
said the study's sponsor, Concur, also was interested in supporting follow-up
research to address this question more directly.
talking exactly about this issue," said Bates. "Let's delve deeper
into this subject matter to see if we can get more clarification. Are 'rogue'
travelers truly saving their companies money or are there other costs
associated with that? Is this business model evolving? It's entirely possible,
but we want to delve further into that and make sure we're accurate. We need to
control for various factors and understand what's going on. It's entirely
possible that the ways travelers book and the way travel managers manage the
program five years from now could be very different than it is today. Our job
is to try to dig into those numbers a bit further and that's what we plan to do
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