Mastercard report sees business travel at tipping point

Global business travel is at a tipping point. After years lost to a pandemic fog of uncertainty, business travel is staging a comeback, even as companies face a changing landscape that will demand new approaches and processes.

That’s the thrust of a new report from Mastercard, which surveyed 541 travel decision makers across the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Australia and India to garner insights into the evolving state of business travel.

“We are at the edge of transformation for the business traveler experience,” said Chad Wallace, Mastercard global head of commercial solutions. “With global business travel on the rise, a simple, seamless [travel and entertainment] experience is essential in providing a foundation for success and progress in this space.”

Some key takeaways:

  • 90% of decision makers — who include travel managers, finance and procurement teams — agree the expanding hybrid/remote workforce will significantly increase the amount of business travel over the next decade.
  • 85% agree it will become commonplace to have a “chief travel officer” in the next five years to manage processes that have been fragmented across departments such as human resources, finance, security and technology.
  • 91% reported they are planning to invest in artificial intelligence and machine learning in the next five years to provide employees with a more personalized travel experience.
  • 90% said their responsibilities now include a greater emphasis on environmental concerns, including missions tracking for business travel.

Given all the changes to the workplace in the aftermath of Covid-19, 86% of respondents agreed managing travel and expenses has become more challenging. One in three decision makers report employees still use personal cards to book travel, creating challenges on spend visibility and missed travel rewards opportunities for organizations.

In response, 90% of respondents said they plan to offer a travel and entertainment card program to improve processes. And just over 90% are interested in the next five years in providing virtual corporate cards to employees to pay for trip expenses. Nine in 10 respondents believed virtual cards would either be commonplace for most companies (48%) or what distinguishes innovative companies (42%) within the next five years.

“The corporate travel industry is at an inflection point in the way we approach managing business travel spend,” Wallace said. “New payment solutions are emerging to fulfill the shifting needs of the industry, enabling travelers and their companies to get real-time spend visibility, to optimize spend controls and to automate the process of tracking expenses.”

Source: PhocusWire

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