Policy vs. policing: what do travelers want?

We’ve all heard that the bright line between work life and personal life is disappearing in a number of different ways. But for business travelers, this is nothing new. Whether they take one trip a year or rarely touch the ground, traveling for work takes more time and effort than commuting to and from the office, and often requires sacrificing some of their personal time.

According to the latest Egencia® Business Travel and Technology Study, an overwhelming number of business travelers say that their sacrifice pays off. Eighty-six percent of business travelers surveyed say that meetings conducted in person are more effective and productive. And more than two-thirds of business travelers (67%) feel they would be less successful if they did not travel for work. From the perspective of business travelers, business travel pays dividends for themselves and for their employers.

Companies are supportive of business travel but are typically concerned with the expenditure, often implementing strict policy to keep costs down. More than half of business travelers (54%) say cost is the most important factor to their company when booking a trip, but some travelers would prefer more flexibility and personalization. Globally, only 38% of business travelers say their company travel policy meets their needs very well, while the rest are looking for more.

How are travelers reacting to restrictive policy? Here’s an interesting view. Around the world, 21% of business travelers say their business travel requests often get denied – this is particularly true among travelers in the US (31%) and India (29%) and least true among those in Denmark (12%) and Sweden (13%).

In response, about half of global travelers will book their favorite airline (49%) or hotel (50%) even if policy prevents them. In India and the US, where bookings are denied the most, the figure is much higher, at 71% and 69%, respectively in the US and 72% to both hotel and airline in India. In countries where approval is least often withheld—the Nordics—travelers are among the world’s most compliant: Sweden (only 17% will fly with their favorite airline even if it doesn’t meet the stipulations of their travel policy), Finland (29%), Denmark (40%), and Norway (48%).

The relationship between policy and compliance is just one of the issues we explored in our recent survey. Egencia asked travelers for their views on their companies’ travel programs in four key areas:

  • Choice: Do travelers have enough choice and flexibility with regard to content?
  • Comfort: Do travelers feel taken care of on the road?
  • Safety: Are safety guidelines prioritized and communicated effectively?
  • Communication:  Are travelers being contacted through the channels they prefer?

Survey feedback received from over 6,000 Egencia travelers in 12 countries* helped us develop 10 tips for companies to empower and take care of travelers. Here’s one related to our findings above in the area of compliance:

If half of your travelers are going to book their favorites, regardless of policy, it may be time to give your policy another look. By offering more choices and clearly communicating with travelers about the “why” behind your decisions, you may be able to increase both compliance and traveler satisfaction.

Read Egencia’s full position paper or infographic to see what else travelers had to say!

* Egencia travelers were surveyed in Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Norway, Sweden, the UK, and the US.