The global pandemic, inflationary pressures, and geopolitical conflicts have left a dent in economies across the globe and reshaped the dynamics of business travel for TMCs and their clients. Striking a balance between financial prudence and meeting the needs of travellers has become increasingly difficult.

In SAP’s recent Concur Global Business Travel Survey, business travellers reported significant budget cuts (40%), a surge in reduced overnight trips (32%), and a noticeable dip in the quality of accommodations (31%).

The survey revealed that 31% of participants were engaged in an ongoing quest for cost-effective travel options. Unsurprisingly, air travel expenses emerged as one of the primary focal points for budget scrutiny as businesses seek to rationalise overall travel expenditures.

According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the average cost of business-related airfares surged by 72% in 2022. While these statistics provide an overview, what is the actual experience for a business traveller striving to harmonise corporate objectives with personal comfort?

Real-world impact

In an interview with Travel News, a seasoned corporate traveller shed light on the tangible effects of reduced travel budgets. He emphasises how these financial constraints have transformed business trips into less enjoyable and more arduous experiences.

“We must consider longer airline routes with multiple stops to secure cheaper airfares. This strategy, while financially prudent, has introduced new challenges. The extended layovers not only induce fatigue but also limit the time available for attending crucial meetings at my destination. This shift is a significant departure from the more efficient business travel experiences of the past.”

He explained that while it was tempting to reduce business travel costs, his company must be mindful of how these decisions could impact travellers.

“Business trips should contribute to the benefit of our operations and profitability, and at the same time consider that we are away from home; living out of a suitcase is no longer exciting for me. I have preferences when I travel to feel comfortable and safe in a foreign environment. There must be a balance between cost saving and our business travel processes, and it is tricky to get that right when everything has become so expensive.”

Proactive approach

Bonnie Smith, GM of Corporate Traveller, says now is the right time to take a strategic rather than reactive approach to business travel budgeting.

“While all businesses need to have an eye on expenses, it is equally important to provide teams with the necessary resources and flexibility when they are on the road.”

In a recent Corporate Traveller article, Smith notes that business travellers are pinching pennies and facing more pressure to make the trip worth every cent.

“The fluctuating rand has not helped, resulting in daily travel allowances barely covering the basics. And you know what they say about all work and no play: it is making these trips much less about glamour and more grind.”

This article first appeared in Southern Africa’s Travel News.