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73% of companies decreasing business trips

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The days of corporate travel with generous privileges might be numbered as more companies start to reduce the number of trips and tighten travel policies.

According to the 2013 Abacus Corporate Travel Practices Survey, almost three quarters (73%) of companies are planning to reduce the number of business trips.

An overwhelming 97% of respondents revealed they have also received instructions to further tighten corporate travel policies, despite the favourable economic outlook.

While six in 10 companies have implemented policies which force travellers to fly economy instead of business class, 47% have forced travellers to take lower star level accommodation.

Even then, 67% felt average rates of major brand hotels were higher than normal. However, high occupancy rates in major cities (50%) and new hotel openings (43%) have forced them to look at different cost-saving options.

“Travel companies need the widest choice of accommodation options and price points to meet their clients’ heightened expectations. It’s prompted many to adopt hotel content aggregators, such as Abacus RoomDeal, to demonstrate they have the range to optimise the contract,” Robert Bailey, chief executive officer of Abacus International, said.

Among other trends identified in the study, mobile technology was found to be a highly untapped resource in the travel industry.

The survey revealed only 33% of companies had implemented any mobile web or native applications for their mobile devices, leading with a simple mobile itinerary tool. This is despite 83% of respondents who felt smartphones would have a moderate to significant impact on their business.

“Customers now want to plan their travel anywhere and at any time. They expect to be able to continue their content journey from their PC and laptop, to their tablet and mobile,” Bailey said.

“Travel management companies and corporate travel agencies must integrate themselves into the new wireless environment.”

Of all mobile applications, only 40% enable flight and hotel bookings, while one in 10 allow making changes to existing arrangements.

“We see the technology strengthening the client-agency relationship and reaching out to travellers. It’s just a question of visualising how it is applied,” Bailey said.

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