When you talk business travel transportation options, you’ll likely hear all about air travel. However, don’t overlook ground transportation and all the benefits it offers your Travelers — particularly when you take top ground transportation trend data into account.
What are the next ground transportation trends that will likely impact your Travelers in the coming year? Here are just a few trends you could see.
Ground Transportation Trend #1: Sustainability is Key — But Still Has Room to Improve
Sustainability is a big buzzword in business travel overall right now. Organizations, from massive corporations to SMEs, want to become more sustainable. Many organizations are now facing government mandates regarding sustainability and carbon impact reporting.
It’s easy to think that sustainability is only a big factor to consider when it comes to air travel. However, that’s not the case. Sustainability is still something to think about when considering ground transportation. It’s top of mind for a lot of business Travelers.
A report produced by the Global Business Travel Association and FREENOW, Europe’s Mobility Super App, in Nov. 2023 found that, compared to data from 2019, nearly 40% of European Travel Managers said their company’s approach to ground transportation has become more sustainable and eco-friendlier. Along these lines, business Travelers in the report agreed that they’d be willing to reduce their ground transportation emissions during business travel through actions such as renting smaller vehicles or taking public transit.
These sentiments fall in line with similar feelings expressed by U.S. and Canadian business Travelers and Travel Managers, in a report generated by the Global Business Travel Association and Uber in Aug. 2023. That report noted that more than 60% of surveyed business Travelers prioritized limiting or reducing carbon emissions.
Unfortunately, in both cohorts, sustainability efforts have room to improve.
For example, in the U.S. and Canadian business Traveler survey, Travel Managers didn’t rank sustainability as high a priority as the business Travelers or even organizations overall. This could be an issue considering that Travel Managers often hold the power in making transportation decisions.
Likewise, in the European business travel study, while sustainability is becoming more of a focus, business Travelers still put other elements of their ground transportation choices above sustainability, such as comfort and cost savings.
Ground Transportation Trend #2: Rideshares and Public Transit Continue to Be Popular
Both of the above-cited studies found that rideshares and public transit continue to be popular. They’re also more sustainable options for business Travelers.
In the North American study, nearly three-fourths of all business Travelers said they use rideshares while on business trips. Nearly 40% said that they do so “frequently.” Nearly 60% said that they have company rideshare accounts. This can be a benefit to Travel Managers, who are then able to better monitor Travelers’ whereabouts, as well as spending. Along these lines, the study found that Travel Managers appreciate the popularity of rideshares with their business Travelers. This is due to multiple factors, including improved data and reporting, increased cost savings, and improved risk management.
In the European study, Travel Managers reported that nearly a third of their ground transportation spending is spent on public transit. This is more than they spend on both taxis and private car rentals. The amount spent on public transit has increased by nearly double since 2020.
One recent ground transportation trend that’s making this use of public transit even easier? As Travel Radar reported, multiple airlines have begun offering Travelers airfare and rail ticket bundles. For example, United Airlines passengers headed to Germany can now purchase a single ticket for a single fare that gives them a flight into the country and then rail tickets that will take them from the Frankfurt airport to more than two dozen cities around the country.
While the United Airlines offering is new, other similar bundles are not. A Lufthansa partnership with Deutsche Bahn is comparable.
Ground Transportation Trend #3: Like Everything, Ground Transportation Increases in Cost
It’s no secret. All modes of travel, all elements of the Business Travel Experience, have increased in cost in recent years.
In 2023, ground transportation increased in cost year-over-year, just as hotel rates and airfare did (via the Global Business Travel Association). While the estimated year’s total increase in global rates for car rentals was lower than the estimated increase in rates for hotel rooms and airfare, at just under 7% (as compared to approximately 8% for both hotel rooms and airfare), it’s still nothing to ignore.
The Global Business Travel Association expects these rates to remain high in 2024 as well. However, the year-over-year rate increase is lower percentagewise. The GBTA expects daily rental rates for vehicles to increase by just over 2% in 2024.
Ground Transportation Trend #4: Travelers Want Options
Lastly, the Global Business Travel Association and FREENOW report found that European Travel Managers have noticed more Travelers wanting more options. The study noted that “More than half (53%) of Travel Managers surveyed expressed interest in contracting with companies that offer multiple modes of ground transport products and services such as rental cars, carsharing, private hire vehicles/ride-shares, eScooters and eBikes.”
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