Sixty-one percent of global business travelers are unhappy with their current travel schedules. Nearly a quarter of them are a flight risk.

The Great Resignation. The Great Attrition. The Great Reshuffle. We’ve all heard of these, and many workers have participated in or been impacted by these seismic shifts in employment. Most employers are hopeful that this trend is on the downturn.

Meanwhile, SAP Concur data shows that since March 2021 we’ve seen a strong, steady increase in business travel transactions, with the exception of an Omicron-induced dip in January 2022. Companies loosened their policies around pre-trip approvals through the spring and, as a result, saw a spike in bookings due to pent-up travel demand.

2022 SAP Concur Global Business Travel Survey Outlines New Challenges

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2022 SAP Concur Global Business Travel Survey Outlines New Challenges

However, initial findings from the fourth annual 2022 SAP Concur global business travel survey underscore that unless employers at global scale address employee demands around flexibility, health, and safety while traveling for business, their ability to attract and retain key talent is at risk.

A degree of unhappiness and anxiety persists among business travelers and travel managers worldwide, and if things don’t change, nearly a quarter of global business travelers will consider looking for a new job — bad news for any business struggling with attrition, skills gaps, and a labor shortage.

Unveiled during SAP Concur Travel Industry Summit, key findings from the survey of 3,850 global business travelers across 25 markets and 700 global travel managers across seven markets include:

  • Three in five business travelers (61%) report that their current travel schedules are falling short of their expectations. Many say a change in corporate travel direction may be to blame: Around four in five business travelers (82%) report their company is returning to pre-pandemic levels but with a “more travel on fewer shoulders” approach.
  • But that doesn’t mean travelers are willing to compromise on their newly elevated expectations for business travel. In fact, those expectations remain largely unchanged from 2021: In 2022, 91% consider some flexible travel and booking options as essential for their company to allow to protect their health and safety when they travel for business—compared to 89% in 2021.
  • Additionally, business travelers are feeling empowered to decline a business trip if it doesn’t match their expectations or comfort level:
    • Four in five business travelers (82%) say their business travel has been impacted by the war in Ukraine, and safety concerns for traveling to certain parts of the world is the most common reason business travelers say they’d decline a business trip, with over half of business travelers (53%) saying they’d do so.
    • Half of business travelers (51%) are willing to decline a business trip their company assigns if they have COVID-19 related health concerns about the trip.
    • A quarter of business travelers (26%) are willing to nix a business trip assigned by their company if they’re feeling burnt out with travel and need a break.
    • A quarter of business travelers (24%) would decline a trip assigned to them if it required using non-sustainable travel options.
  • Nearly one in four business travelers who are not traveling at their ideal travel frequency (23%) say they’ll look for a new position if their travel schedule doesn’t improve. At the same time, aware of the labor market, travelers aren’t willing to accept a position that requires more travel without added perks: 92% say they’d need additional salary, benefits, or travel flexibility to take a position with more travel.
  • Meanwhile, travel managers are also feeling the pressure: All surveyed travel managers (100%) expect their role to be more challenging in the next 12 months compared to last year, with nearly half (49%) reporting that the stress is coming from above, through increasing pressure from senior leadership to demonstrate the ROI of their role.

The SAP Concur Global Business Traveler Report, featuring additional findings from the fourth annual global business travel survey, will be published in the coming weeks. Check out our global business travel survey video here. Follow SAP Concur on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to stay up to date on the latest.

Charlie Sultan is president of Concur Travel.

The SAP Concur global business traveler survey was conducted by Wakefield Research between April 28 and May 23, 2022, among 3,850 business travelers, defined as those who traveled for business three-plus times in the past 24 months, in 25 markets: U.S., Canada, Brazil, Mexico, LAC (Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Argentina), UK, France, Germany, ANZ region (Australia and New Zealand), SEA region (Singapore and Malaysia), China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, India, Korea, Italy, Spain, Dubai, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg), South Africa, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. Data has been weighted to facilitate tracking.

The SAP Concur global travel manager survey was conducted by Wakefield Research between April 28 and May 23, 2022, among 700 travel managers, defined as those who direct or administer travel programles for businesses, across seven markets: France, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, SEA Countries (Malaysia and Singapore), UK, and U.S. Data has been weighted to facilitate tracking.