Concur Research Reveals Business Travel Challenges

Concur Research Reveals Business Travel Challenges

As global workforces grapple with the disconnect of remote working, efficient business travel is a top priority, offering access to new markets, insights, and development opportunities. However, it comes with complications, as revealed by new SAP Concur research of 3,750 travelers and 600 travel managers across global markets.

Many influences are driving – and sometimes stalling – the business travel industry. To ensure maximum productivity and well-being for travelers and travel managers, businesses must support them with the right education and tools in 2024 and beyond. To ensure smooth running and maximize their investments in business travel, business leaders must understand its friction points. The sixth SAP Concur Global Business Travel Survey explores some of the most pressing challenges facing business travelers today. These are the top five takeaways:

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1. The Threat of Disruption

  • Eighty-eight percent of travelers have been forced to make last-minute changes in the past year because of unexpected delays, cancellations, or the need to re-route.
  • Eighty percent opt to add “booking buffers” to the start or end of their journey, or both, incorporating extra time to counteract unexpected schedule changes. This frustrating cycle discourages business travel altogether.

2. Traveler Safety Concerns

  • Business travelers cite safety (44%) or political or social (35%) concerns about the destination as the most common reasons that would cause them to decline a business trip.
  • Many travel managers experience burnout due to the range of aggravating factors they must consider when planning and provisioning for business trips. A third feel like they are expected to take on a more strategic role without further training.

3. The Toss-Up Between Sustainability and Costs

  • Over a quarter of business travelers are willing to decline a business trip due to the environmental impact or the inability to choose sustainable options.
  • Twenty-seven percent, on the other hand, claim their company has cut back on paying more for sustainable travel options over the past 12 months.
  • Over a third of travel managers face difficulties because they are expected to provide more sustainable travel options without an adequate budget.

4. Unequal Access to Travel Opportunities

  • Two in three business travelers say that travel is critical for their career advancement – but the same proportion feel they haven’t received equal opportunity to travel compared to their colleagues.
  • Staff cite reasons for unequal access such as their level of seniority (19%), age (18%), and gender (11%).

5. The Need for AI Solutions and Education

  • Most travelers (95%) are open to using AI-enabled options when arranging travel, but there is a prevailing “wait and see” attitude. Fewer than one in ten are comfortable using AI-enabled options currently.
  • Eighty-nine percent of business travelers want more company support, including assurances for personal data protection, potential biases, and protection from repercussions if AI-assisted bookings contravene company policy.

Leaders won’t be able to solve current travel disruption overnight – but they can make it more manageable for staff. By introducing measures to improve travel flexibility, training opportunities, and next-generation software solutions, organizations can adapt to a challenging market and future-proof their business travel posture for the long term.

For more information about the survey, including additional findings, please download our business traveler, travel manager, and SMB business traveler whitepapers.

Charlie Sultan is president of Concur Travel at SAP Concur.

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The SAP Concur Global Business Traveler Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research between April 5-26, 2024, among 3,750 business travelers in 24 markets: U.S., Canada, UK, Germany, France, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Italy, Spain, ANZ (Australia, New Zealand), Middle East (UAE, Saudi Arabia), Japan, Korea, India, Mexico, Brazil, SEA (Singapore, Malaysia), South Africa, Portugal, Switzerland, and Austria. Data has been weighted to facilitate tracking.
The SAP Concur Global Travel Manager Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research between April 5-26, 2024, 2024, among 600 travel managers, defined as those who direct or administer travel programs for businesses, across 6 markets: Germany, Canada, Japan, ANZ Countries (Australia and New Zealand), UK, and U.S.

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