American Express Business Travel

Cost and accountability pressures

[Translate to English:] Telekonferenz bei Marriott

At the beginning of 2010, interviewed 169 travel managers from more than 30 sectors on behalf of American Express Business Travel. The good news: business travel is on the increase again. That said, it does not look likely to regain earlier levels.

Travel managers are convinced that 2010 will see more business travel again, although in all likelihood travel frequency will not return to former levels. This is because a paradigm shift has taken place. Heightened sensitivity to travel expenses has made return on investment and economical alternatives to business trips more important. Thus the outcome of a travel manager survey conducted worldwide for American Express Business Travel. The survey finds many companies currently investing more heavily in technologies to help cut costs and make work more efficient. 74 percent of respondents are now switching to conference calls and around 72 percent to Webbased online conferences whenever face-to-face meetings are not absolutely necessary. Barely ten percent of the companies interviewed have not yet installed alternatives to personal meetings. More investment is also being made in online booking tools, which have the advantage that travel guidelines can be integrated into the system.

“Travel managers face entirely new challenges, calling for a fundamental rethink in some cases. The situation is one of cost-cutting and heightened accountability pressures,” says Kaveh Atrak, General Manager Central and Northern Europe at American Express. Incidentally, on its website a brief questionnaire helps travel managers assess how well their company is already prepared for these challenges relative to its peers. Even as they answer the questions, participants receive benchmarks and tips on how to optimise their business travel management.

The questionnaire takes different aspects of travel management into account – asking, for example, what measures companies have already implemented to lower travel costs and what methods they apply to steer travel demand. Allowance is also made for the introduction, implementation and monitoring of compliance with travel guidelines and the use of new technologies.

The survey also shows professional travel expenses management gaining in importance. Already, more than one in every two companies quizzed uses an Internet tool to monitor travel expenses. In turn, 86 percent of these link this tool to their corporate credit card, saving process costs and time by dispensing with manual entries. The results of the analyses are used mainly to negotiate better deals with travel services providers (74 percent) and monitor compliance with travel guidelines (66 percent).

While many companies now address travel management in a highly professional way, event management still has far to go in this respect. Only about 27 percent of the companies surveyed said they had special guidelines on event implementation. Responsibility for meetings is traditionally spread among different departments, increasing the danger of inefficiencies in the choice of supplier and procurement. The English report can be requested at