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The larger the travel volume, the more likely a company enjoys the benefits of global travel management, according to results of a survey of 240 travel managers in key global markets released last month by Amadeus and the Association of Corporate Travel Executives. Four of five respondents from companies with over $100 million in annual air spend said global travel programs are worthwhile, as compared with 59 percent of all respondents.
Savings are definitely a draw for those considering multinational travel management initiatives. Some respondents said those savings could reach or exceed 45 percent of overall travel spend. The highest savings were reported in Asia and Europe, perhaps reflecting the "fact that travel programs in these markets are at an earlier stage of maturity than those in the United States and Western Europe," said Marcos Isaac, director of corporate and distribution channels for Amadeus e-Travel. About one-quarter of respondents were from Europe, 61 percent from the United States, 6 percent from Canada, 5 percent from Asia-Pacific and 3 percent from South Africa.
But savings are not the only advantage, the survey found. Eight-seven percent of respondents cited tracking travelers for security purposes as the most significant benefit of global programs, followed by increased negotiating clout (86 percent), reduced costs (84 percent), improved process efficiency (82 percent) and improved service (80 percent).
While respondents said their greatest challenges include obtaining global data, policy compliance, consistent service levels and senior management support, the top challenge--according to 85 percent of respondents--is integrating technology globally.
For example, only 18 percent said their companies use a single expense management system across all markets. Ten percent said they were using one in some regions, but 28 percent said they weren't using one at all.
Use of self-booking tools as part of a global travel program is more widespread, cited by 68 percent of respondents and 96 percent of those at companies with the largest travel budgets.
But the report noted that online travel bookings don't always save money, and quoted DaimlerChrysler AG travel manager Florian Tinnus as saying the cost of maintaining his company's "automated online workflow process is higher than the cost of labor in its 12 Asian markets."
Companies spending more than $100 million on air travel have the most centralized and evolved travel programs, according to the report. All of these respondents said their companies had conducted global negotiations with air, card, car rental and hotel suppliers. In addition, 89 percent had consolidated with one travel management company and 96 percent were using an online booking tool. Within this group, 44 percent said they use a data aggregator, as compared to just 17 percent overall.
Four of 10 respondents said their companies have global deals with airline alliances, enabling them to consolidate volume over multiple business units. The survey found the highest prevalence of such deals is in Europe, at 55 percent. But 44 percent of all respondents reported global deals with individual airlines.
Hotels may present the biggest opportunity for further global consolidation, as just 34 percent of respondents indicated that preferred hotels account for the majority of their spend across regions. Only 31 percent said they use preferred self-bookings tool globally. A majority of respondents reported global use of a preferred travel management company (74 percent), card (65 percent), car rental vendor (63 percent) and expense management solution (54 percent).
"Many companies have consolidated their travel operations regionally as a way to create linkage between the central headquarters and localities," according to the poll. "Indeed, at many companies, the management model itself is that of a multinational team of regional representatives working closely together." Nearly one-third of respondents said they develop their programs globally, while 18 percent said they develop regionally and 6 percent emphasize a business-unit structure. More than 44 percent of respondents said they use a combination of all three approaches.
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