Business travel is booming, and it’s only going to become more prominent in the future. In 2015, global business travel expenses swelled to more than $1.2 trillion. Forecasts indicate that these expenses will grow an average of 5.8% over the next 5 years, reaching $1.6 trillion by 2020.
But, while business travel is growing, it’s also changing: Corporate travel management is moving away from print-out approvals, itineraries and expense report — and it’s moving into the cloud.
Why? Because the cloud means efficiency and convenience, not to mention savings — businesses using cloud-based expense- and travel-management solutions will enjoy a discounted average of $2.78 million in benefits by 2020.
Concur and IDC, a leading market intelligence firm, recently released a report called “The Connected Journey: Evolving to the Next Level of Business Travel.” Here’s a look at the report’s takeaways and what they could mean for your business.
What Makes the Cloud Better
So much goes into business travel. A specific trip requires proposal, approval, booking, itinerary distribution, changes and delays, duty of care by the company, travel expense management during the trip, compliance and the filing of expense reports upon return home.
That’s a lot to keep up with. And cloud-based solutions make everything easier. Here’s how:
In the past, business travelers might have to book on their own or experience a lengthy back-and-forth with a corporate travel agent. Remembering to take advantage of corporate discounts and adhering to travel policies was hit or miss.
With a cloud-based solution, booking is made easy. Discounts, room types and loyalty programs are pre-populated. Cloud-based tools send alerts when trips violate corporate travel management policies. And reservations from multiple vendors are consolidated into one itinerary that allows for the addition of meetings and other activities.
A business traveler must navigate all sorts of delays, cancellations and changes in plans. They must track their spending while also keeping up with work demands. And then there’s the possibility of unforeseen safety concerns, such as natural disasters and political unrest — especially when traveling overseas.
Cloud-based solutions make tracking and communication easier than ever. Business travelers can quickly tweak or make changes to their itineraries without involving a third party. Direct messages warn travelers about natural disasters, political unrest or other threatening situations. And spending and productivity are far easier to track than before.
While some travelers may breathe a sigh of relief when they return to the office, the real work is just beginning. That’s because post-travel expense management and compliance can be incredibly time-consuming.
A cloud-based travel management solution shortens the time spent on these administrative tasks. Expense auditing, FCPA compliance, VAT reclaiming, cross-border payroll taxes, expense data integration, expense reimbursement — everything is automated and streamlined for better accuracy and greater convenience.
A Popular Solution for Travelers and Travel Managers
Cloud-based solutions offer benefits to the company and convenience to travel managers. They also help business travelers achieve a peace of mind that was elusive during the analog travel management era.
According to Booking.com, a survey of 4,500 business travelers indicates that 93% feel stressed during at least one portion of a business trip, and 38% consider the administrative aspect of business travel to be the most stressful part. That’s telling. It’s not a crucial sit-down with clients, a presentation to win new business or the launch of a new location or product that stresses many travelers. Rather, it’s the planning, arranging and managing of travel and related expenses that make them worry.
How does the cloud make a difference? Think of it this way: Before the cloud, travel-related administration was handled on an as-needed basis, almost always requiring manual intervention on the part of the traveler or the travel manager.
But now, with cloud-based solutions, many of these challenges can be anticipated, automated and resolved before they impact any one person.
Create an Ecosystem for Best Results
No two businesses have the same exact travel needs. That’s why it’s important to create an ecosystem of cloud-based tools that together create the perfect solution for your company. For example, booking and travel management software like Concur can be used as the foundation of your eco-system, with other platforms sprinkled in to fill any gaps. Survey results show that the right ecosystem can lead to:
• 49% less time spent planning travel
• 70% less time spent on expense reports
• 35% better compliance with a company’s policies
• 54% fewer lost, destroyed or misplaced receipts
Smartphones: The Tools That Make Connected Travel Click
One of the keys to cloud-based business travel solutions is the smartphone. Airports of the 20th century included banks of payphones where business travelers could call to check in with the office, or to get in touch with a business travel agency about delays and cancellations.
But, today, 77% of American adults own smartphones, and 78% of business travelers in the United States prefer using self-service travel technology to take care of travel needs. A smartphone gives travelers the flexibility and control they want while away on business, and it also gives companies visibility and insight as their team members hit the road.
Take a Common Sense Approach to Business Travel
Cloud-based management solutions are the future of business travel. They make life easier for both travel managers and business travelers, and they help save money, too. Choosing and integrating one of these cloud-based solutions is just common sense.
At JTB Business Travel, common sense is behind each of the many services and recommendations we offer our clients. We are a full-service business travel agency that also helps you choose the right travel technology solutions to meet your company’s needs.
Contact us to learn more about the travel technologies and solutions available for your company.