European business travel spend will increase by 4.3 per cent in 2019, according to the European Business Travel Barometer study published by American Express Global Business Travel. The forecast indicates
that business travel growth will be highest in Spain and the UK, which are predicted to increase by 6.8% and 6.2%, respectively.
The 28th edition summarises 2018’s trends and insights while looking ahead to the end of 2019 and this is the longest-running study of European business travel.
This edition analyses results from a survey of more than 1,000 procurement, travel management,
finance and HR professionals who are responsible for their organisations’ travel programmes. Survey
participants represent businesses of various sizes and come from 10 key European countries.
It found that in 2018, the amount of money spent on business travel increased by 3.8 per cent year-on-year, 0.4 per cent more than was forecasted in the previous barometer.
There was also a 3.6 per cent annual rise in the number of people travelling for work.
American Express Global Business Travel senior vice president and managing director, international, Elyes Mrad, said: “The findings of the study are positive. After a year of geopolitical and economic uncertainty, businesses are still focused on investing in travel to foster relationships and facilitate growth.”
The research also revealed a shift in managed travel priorities.
For the last three years, traveller security was the top of the list.
This year, cost control takes precedence, followed by data security:
- Control and management of costs
- Data security
- Traveller security
- Traveller satisfaction
Despite being ranked fourth, 71 per cent of businesses now measure traveller satisfaction compared to only 56 per cent in the previous year.
Business travel is handled by an increasingly diverse set of people and functions, and the data
shows that travel policies reflect the concerns and priorities of these departments. This also means
how departments manage costs will vary.
As a result, two-thirds of companies now use traveller satisfaction as a tool to improve employee engagement, which is reflected in a shift away from strict travel policies (a decrease of 16 per cent between 2016 and 2018) in favour of greater flexibility.
Mrad added: “The challenge businesses face is balancing cost efficiency and effectiveness, enabling travel to support their objectives, but at the same time, meeting the needs and expectations of employees. We expect to see a growing demand for flexible, smarter travel policies, tools and services that respond quickly to traveller feedback.”
The challenge in 2019 is to build programmes that strike the right balance between cost efficiency and effectiveness, enabling travel that supports business objectives and at the same time meets the needs and expectations of travellers.
One key to achieving this will be flexible, smarter travel policies that can react to traveller feedback. Another will be for organisations to work with industry partners who can give them the technology to drive
successful travel programmes that allow their travellers to be present where and when it matters.
A summary of research results and analysis from the 2019 European Business Travel Barometer is available to download here.