Among the key travel buyer trends for 2020 to watch, cost reduction will remain on the agenda this year – the key trend for travel buyers over the past decade at least.

With a bit more travel budget in the kitty, it’s time to start focusing on other corporate travel trends. Here’s our Top 5 Travel Buyer Trends for 2020 which we will be addressing throughout the year, discussing at our events and providing our members with resources for:

  1. Measuring Return on Investment

A recent article from Top 500 discussing a positive outlook for Corporate Travel in 2020 references a study by Oxford Economics dealing with Travel ROI. This study claims that companies realise US$12.50 (R185.98) in incremental revenue and US$3.80 (R56.53) in new profits from every dollar (R14.87) invested in business travel.

However, there are very few companies that effectively measure travel ROI. In emerging markets, having access to the data and know-how to do this is often not possible.

A recent survey by ABTA shows that 50% of respondents don’t measure travel ROI at all, with the remainder doing so only ‘partially’.

For companies to understand truly the extent to which their Travel Programme is succeeding by being a business enabler, measuring ROI is critical.

ABTA will be releasing resources to their membership in April 2020 providing travel buyers with various strategies to measure their corporate travel ROI.

  1. Tackling your Carbon Footprint

Discussions and debates around climate change have reached an all-time-high over the past year. No matter what your opinions are around climate change, it cannot be disputed that corporate travel contributes to environmental damage.

IATA estimates that aviation contributes about 2% of the world’s carbon emissions and that passenger numbers are predicted to double in the next 15 to 20 years.

There are companies that attempt to measure their carbon footprints, and then offset these in a variety of ways, from planting trees to implementing recycling initiatives, and more.

In South Africa, only 34% of respondents in a recent ABTA survey stated they currently manage or have plans to manage the impact of their companies travel on the environment, but that they would like to be focusing more on this in 2020.

For companies who need to demonstrate that they take corporate social responsibility seriously, measuring and offestting their carbon footprint has become vital. ABTA will be releasing resources to their membership in July 2020, addressing the role of Corporate Travel on climate change and giving a variety of ideas as to how this can be measured and counteracted.

  1. Getting to grips with data privacy

 How our personal data is being mined and utilised, often without our knowledge, is something increasingly more people have started asking questions about. Are our phones ‘listening’ to us? Are my private conversations, contacts, photographs, etc. really private? Who is targeting me for various product promotions and how could they know what I want, what my search history is, etc.?

Undeniably, there are data houses where hundreds of thousands of pieces of data are being stored every minute of every day.

From a personal perspective, this is bad enough, but when it comes to keeping third-party data safe, and the implications thereof, if we fail to do so, is of great concern.

Corporate travel generates massive amounts of data that the industry needs to understand how to protect. South Africa’s POPI (Protection of Personal Information) and Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) laws directly impact the travel industry and require companies to understand their role within data protection.

In a recent ABTA survey, over 60% of respondents state that they will be focusing far more on data privacy measures this year. To assist our members with better insights around this, ABTA will be releasing a variety of resources in October this year.

  1. Mind the Gap – Better Procurement Practices

 For a long time, we have been experiencing the gap that exists between what clients think they will receive from their travel suppliers versus what is delivered. Equally important is the gap that travel suppliers experience between what they think clients will require from them, and what is actually required.

ABTA hosted an RFP focus group where the main outcomes highlighted by Travel Buyers about their TMC partners were that there was a lack of initiative, a lack of focus, and a lack of understanding of the clients business.

The three themes that emerged from were that they are set up to fail, they feel taken advantage of, and that their value is not understood.

One of the key issues around this gap in expectations versus deliverables is the way in which companies currently run their RFP programmes and what is often seen as a lack of understanding by procurement departments about effectively procuring travel services.

In an article by BTN, it is suggested that TMC sourcing still needs the RFP, but it is the way that RFPs are run that needs to be addressed to improve efficiencies and communication between buyer and supplier.

ABTA will be addressing this topic across a variety of initiatives in 2020, to investigate what changes can be made and how, taking into account the necessary evil elements of the RFP that are here to stay.

  1. Understanding and implementing ‘traveller-centric’ strategies

For many companies, getting effective buy-in from their travellers to improve traveller compliance is about as good as it can get.

There is very little else to do, other than to continuously drive the message home.

The second approach companies are now taking is to look at ways to cater better to what travellers are asking for. Where companies historically would shy away from this concept – “We don’t want to open Pandora’s box!” – they are now understanding that the younger the workforce gets, and the more aggressive technology becomes, the more the corporate governance stick approach seems to be losing its effectiveness.

A recent Skift report states that companies will need to be ‘more traveller-centric, but not in an unmanaged fashion”. Understanding the balance between cost containtment and traveller satisfaction is where the magic lies.

ABTA will be releasing resources to their membership in August 2020, addressing different tools and tactics that can be used to ensure travellers feel more taken care of, while simultaneously managing travel budgets effectively.


For access to these resources and ABTA’s various events and initiatives adressing business travel across the African continent, click here to find out about becoming an ABTA member.


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