Globalization, the growing Millennial workforce, and disruption in suppliers, are new trends that are expected to have significant impact on the business travel industry according to new research out today from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) in partnership with Cvent. The travel buyer role is an increasingly global one and shifts from travel towards procurement, an increasing focus on traveler safety, and technology implementation, have given rise to new challenges for the business travel industry. The new research reveals how buyers are adapting to these changes and the impact they have on organizational travel policies and programs.

“As the industry continues to evolve driven by increasing globalization, changes in data privacy and security laws and supplier disruption and fragmentation, one thing that remains certain is that changes to the travel buyer role will only continue to accelerate,” said Scott Solombrino, GBTA executive director and COO. “The research suggests that buyers may be relying too much on technology to be the change agent versus making strategic choices to act, rather than react, in the face of change.”

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“With our industry’s increasing dependence on technology to drive business results, and navigating new security regulations like GDPR, we’re at a tipping point where travel buyers are facing numerous challenges and must rethink fundamental approaches to travel program management,” said Patrick Smith, chief marketing officer at Cvent. “We partnered with GBTA to help shed light on these forces of change, knowing that the results will allow our industry to rise to the challenge of delivering better services to our end customers – the business traveler.”
Key Research Highlights
The Impact of a Growing Millennial Workforce and Changing Traveler Expectations
•One in four travel buyers say over 40 percent of their traveling workforce is now made up of Millennials.
•Over half of buyers (54 percent) say Millennials tend to push the boundaries of corporate travel policy and three-quarters (73 percent) say Millennials demand different, more consumer-like tools out of their company’s travel program.
•Despite this, only one in five travel buyers say they have changed their travel policy in response to an increasingly Millennial workforce.

Technology Advancements Continue to Impact Process but Still Do Not Drive Policy Change
•Seven in ten (70 percent) buyers say they expect to spend more time evaluating or implementing new technology in the next five years.
•Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of travel buyers say increasing technological developments are significantly impacting their role and 42 percent say tech developments are having a moderate to very strong impact on their travel programs.
•Despite the strong impact, many buyers have not changed their travel policies in response to technology advancements as only 32 percent report doing so. This compares to 54 percent of buyers who have made policy changes regarding safety and security concerns.

Recherche

The Speed of Technological Change Leads to Disparate Systems and Misalignment in the Industry
•Technology integration is a top priority in vendor selection, yet travel buyers still struggle with integration, particularly with homegrown meetings management.
•57 percent of buyers indicate tech integration is within their top three priorities when selecting vendors for a travel management company (TMC) and travel booking technology (66 percent). Yet, for buyers with meetings management technology in place, only 41 percent say they combine TMC/hotel data with data from their meetings management tool; fewer say their meetings management tool is integrated with their safety and security tool (37 percent) or their online booking tool (36 percent); and only 18 percent say it is integrated with their expense tool.
•Additionally, program success and priorities are not always aligned. Despite traveler safety growing in importance over time, only a small majority (52 percent) of buyers measure travel effectiveness through traveler safety metrics.
To learn more, download an infographic here with key highlights from the research. The report, The Travel Buyer of the Future: What’s on the Horizon for the Ever-Changing Landscape of Travel and Meetings Management, is available exclusively to GBTA members on the GBTA Hub.

A webinar on Tuesday, September 10 at 2PM ET will take a deep dive into the research findings and how travel buyers are adapting to today’s shifting landscape. The webinar will explore some of the biggest factors impacting the travel buyer role today, how travel buyers are reacting to these influences, and what strategic choices can be made to prepare your travel program for the future.

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Methodology
An online survey of 173 North American travel buyers was fielded between April 3 and May 15, 2019. Respondents qualified if they self-identified as a travel or meetings manager/buyer or a procurement/sourcing professional.