Tell your finance team to get ready! Business travel – and all the expense reports that come with it – is making its grand return.
So says a new survey from Concur. It found that 96% of employees are willing to take a business trip within the next year.
But in a post-pandemic world, you know business travel won’t be the same as before. Companies may need to shift T&E policies and procedures to meet new norms. And travelers may have different motivations, expectations and concerns.
To prepare your team for what’s to come, check out some other key highlights of the report:
1. Travelers’ motivations
So, travelers are ready to hit the road. But what’s driving them? Of the respondents willing to travel, some of their top motivations were to:
- make personal connections with customers and colleagues (54%)
- experience new places (52%), and
- take a break from everyday life (41%).
Given the personal nature of these reasons, it’ll be key for those approving T&E trips and expenses to verify the business reasons behind trips and the associated costs. (For example, is that trip to San Francisco really necessary, or could it be an employee itching to get away for a few days?)
2. Bleisure’s back
In a similar vein, another interesting statistic the report found was that a whopping 89% of people plan to add personal vacation time to their business trips in the next year.
Since you can expect a lot of “bleisure” (business + leisure) trips in 2021 and 2022, it’ll be especially important for your team to closely check costs and make sure only business-related meals, lodging, etc., get reimbursed. Staffers could even send employees a reminder that if they’re tacking on some leisure time, those expenses need to be kept separate from the ones they submit to Finance.
3. A shift in power
The pandemic has “altered the power dynamic” with business travel, Concur says. Employees want their voices to be heard, especially when it comes to travel policies and risk:
- 68% want to return to business travel – but on their own terms
- 31% would request to limit travel if their company didn’t have policies or measures to protect their health and safety, and
- 20% would look for another position if asked to travel without safety measures.
If your company wants to get people back on the road, it may have to shift existing policies or introduce new ones. To help, your staff could gather employee feedback about current procedures and facilitate discussions between those enforcing T&E policies and those adhering to them. After, policies could be adjusted as necessary.
4. Flexibility is king
Regarding what new measures employees want to see in a post-pandemic T&E policy, flexibility was the most important factor. In the survey, 72% said being able to choose their own transportation, lodging and travel dates was a necessary element of the policy. And 62% said vaccination-related policies were also critical.
CFOs will want to make sure this newly desired flexibility is set up in a way that costs don’t skyrocket. For example, employees want to choose their trip dates, but that may jack up what flights cost. So, maybe you offer a couple of choices within preferred suppliers, but employees don’t get carte blanche to pick anything they want. That way, there’s a balance between flexibility and cost control.