1. 85% of small to mid-sized businesses would consider a business travel management platform
  2. Employees of all levels are keen to discover the benefits
  3. Managing Directors value reliability over finding the best deals
  4. 25% see cost as the biggest challenge to booking business travel
  5. Free platform for all employees is a top benefit
  6. Conclusion
  7. Methodology
  8. Sources

70% of companies claim to be closely evaluating the potential impacts of their business trips, including issues such as cost, emissions and employee retention, according to recent research from Deloitte.

And with business travel budgets set to continue rising to combat increasing costs, businesses now need to make their money work hard to get the most from what they’re being given.

Aside from financial concerns, shifting attitudes are also placing more focus on things like flexibility and traveling sustainably than ever before. It’s therefore easy to see how business travel can quickly get complicated.

These complications explain why the travel management tool market is only expected to grow. Travel management platforms make the process of booking corporate travel easier and more efficient, which is why 85% of those small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) surveyed by Booking.com for Business would consider using such a platform to help overcome these challenges.

In this article, Booking.com for Business shares valuable insights into the trends and attitudes towards business travel management software, gained through surveying employees involved in planning business travel from small to mid-sized organizations.

This insight can highlight the ways in which such platforms can benefit businesses and lead to more strategic and cost-effective business travel management - to help potential users with their decision-making.

85% of small to mid-sized businesses would consider a business travel management platform

Our survey results suggest that there is significant potential for travel booking systems to improve the business travel experience for companies of all sizes.

Bar chart showing data on people using a business management system

90% of surveyed companies with 201-500 employees and 86% of companies with 51-200 employees are interested in using business travel management software. This suggests that the larger the business, the more likely it is for them to consider using business travel management platforms. The more employees to manage, the harder it gets to keep track of trips, bookings and expenses, so being able to streamline some of the booking process is bound to be useful.

However, small businesses (with 50 employees or fewer) were only marginally less enthusiastic about trying such a platform. Even for businesses of this size, where purchasing software might be considered an unnecessary expense, an easily-accessible and cost-effective - or even free - booking system could help to bolster their own organizational skills when planning their business trips.

Deloitte’s 2023 research into corporate travel tells us that while there will be lots of opportunities to help companies with their travel optimization, the companies in question - particularly employees in charge of booking travel - will have high expectations of the help that is offered. This undoubtedly extends to travel booking and management platforms.

Looking at the needs of specific roles within those companies can help to provide further insight.

Employees of all levels are keen to discover the benefits

Employees with different roles and responsibilities will each need to prioritize different features when choosing a travel management platform that suits them.

This is why we’ve surveyed employees in a variety of positions across small and mid-sized businesses, who are all involved with business travel management, in order to understand their perspectives. The different roles we've delved into are:

  • Managing directors (MDs) - decision-makers representing larger SMBs - would be more drawn to reliability, finding the best deals for their organization, and using platforms that offer comprehensive booking
  • Small business owners are also key decision-makers, but on a different scale to a managing director of a larger SMB. They often prioritize reliability and cost-effectiveness
  • Business travel bookers, such as an HR representative or administrator, will be interested in flexible payment plans and lots of options to choose from
  • Business travellers - those whose jobs require them to travel most frequently - will prioritize features that will save them time

When looking specifically at job roles within small to mid-sized businesses, there is a similar level of enthusiasm towards using a business travel management platform across all those surveyed, with only a 6% variation in interest.

Bar chart showing job roles

However, the features that make a travel booking system useful might not be considered universal across all employees. That is why it’s essential to understand the various needs and difficulties felt by different types of employees whose work involves organizing and participating in business travel.

Managing Directors value reliability over finding the best deals

We asked employees from small to mid-sized companies, whose work involves business travel and its management, about the various challenges and priorities they have when booking and managing their business travel via a management platform - and this is what was revealed.

Chart showing what business travelers need from a management system

By nature, small business owners will be looking to prioritize cost-effective travel and finding the best deals (29%). Those who own small businesses are also traveling less than their larger counterparts, and their trips are likely made up of fewer employees, making time efficiency in booking travel less of an urgent matter.

When it comes to managing directors, reliability is their top priority by far (21%), unlike business travellers themselves (3%), who value time efficiency much higher (20%).

While for those regularly on the road or in the air, time is of the essence when it comes to booking business trips. This is evident in the way that only 3% of small business owners cite time efficiency as important for booking travel, compared to 20% of business travellers - who are more likely to be out traveling themselves.

Business travel bookers’ need for variety (22%) could indicate that they value their autonomy when carrying out their work. Could this be due to their prior experience in what is and isn’t useful to them when booking travel? If so, they are likely equally as familiar with the potential challenges.

25% see cost as the biggest challenge to booking business travel

As highlighted in Deloitte’s study, 60% of companies are now systematically evaluating their business trips to make sure they justify the cost of travel.

As well as being expensive, booking business travel can be an error-prone and time-consuming task. A travel management platform would be most useful if it solves most, if not all of these problems.

If used correctly, improving time efficiency and alleviating challenges through such a platform could not only save money, it could potentially increase the number of business trips a company could afford to take each year - which in turn may further strengthen client and employee relationships.

Chart showing business traveler challenges

As previously seen, small businesses are those most concerned with the cost of booking business travel, and it is seen as their biggest challenge (30%). However, having fewer employees and less complicated internal systems does mean that they are the most able to manage the book-keeping process (4%), and the least concerned about disorganized internal processes (7%) and booking being too time-consuming (9%).

For those in managing director positions, potentially within bigger companies with far more employees and regular trips to account for, this lack of coordination between teams is more concerning. This larger scale disorganization is likely responsible for their frustrations with how time-consuming booking travel can be (23%).

This suggests that small business owners and MDs are the ones with the most to gain from the additional control over business travel processes offered by travel management tools.

This level of control over the process is something that businesses of all sizes could benefit from, as it makes arranging business travel easier and more efficient. But what are some of the other benefits?

Free platform for all employees is a top benefit

Chart showing benefits of a business travel management platform

Research from a global survey by Morgan Stanley found that corporate travel budgets are increasing, despite macroeconomic uncertainty being a “significant barrier” to business travel. This means that businesses need their travel budgets to be working as hard as possible, as although it may have increased, a larger budget used inefficiently might not stretch as far as it once did.

A free travel management platform could help allocate this money more wisely, especially for businesses that might not be able to justify spending on software.

This also supports Booking.com for Business’ findings, as the notion of the platform being free for all employees to use was met with relatively high approval from all job roles surveyed when compared to other benefits (13-17%). As was being able to book a trip in five minutes and increase time efficiencies (10-17%), which also helps to save on resources and therefore cost.

Conclusion

The needs, challenges and benefits of using business travel management platforms largely revolve around being a way that small to mid-sized businesses can save time and money, and therefore improve profitability. These are the areas where businesses will see the most immediate benefit and feel the most impact.

Of those surveyed, it is the managing directors of larger SMBs who seem to find booking business travel the most time-consuming and disorganized. Therefore they are the ones likely to feel the most benefit from a travel management platform.

While business travel bookers are also likely to benefit from these tools, their experience probably makes them more discerning in what they deem important - such as being able to use negotiated rates.

Smaller businesses and their owners, while aware of the need to be cost-effective when booking business travel, may not immediately see a business travel management platform as the solution, despite its many benefits. This could be due to only having a few staff to manage, or a smaller budget to play with.

However, a free travel tool like Booking.com for Business could be the solution, offering enterprise-grade features to organizations of all sizes.

Ultimately, a successful business trip can mean many things to SMBs, but the value of these ventures can only truly be felt when the process of booking them is smooth and efficient.

With increasing costs forcing business travel to become more and more strategic, it’s important for organizations of all sizes to not only make the booking process seamless, but to also get a complete overview of travel. Without this, there can be no regular evaluation of one of their largest company expenses. Using a travel management platform could be the perfect solution for this.

Methodology

Booking.com for Business conducted a 15 minute quantitative online survey in 2022 with 604 travel management decision makers across 3 markets (US, UK and Germany), and both managed and unmanaged micro businesses with 2-50 employees, small businesses with 51-200 employees and medium business with 201-500 employees.

Survey questions included the businesses current processes and challenges for booking business travel, why they book business trips, how much each market spends on business travel, and the features each business size wants and needs in a travel management platform. The responses were then analyzed to showcase the travel frequency of different business sizes and job positions both domestically and internationally, as well as spend across each of the core markets, firm sizes and job positions.

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