Business travel is showing signs of growth, according to a new nationwide poll of travel experts.
A survey by Travel Leaders Group finds that 38.8 percent of its corporate-travel focused agents reporting overall business travel bookings for 2016 are higher than they were at the same point last year, while 35.6 percent say they’re about even.
One of the most important services that travel agents provide for their corporate clients is ensuring that Duty of Care policies are followed. Companies are responsible for the safety of their employees while they travel, just as they are when they’re at the home office.
Travel Leaders’ agents provide a variety of services under the Duty of Care umbrella. Of those agents reporting that they’ve assisted a client, 67.5 percent said that it involved an airline emergency. But that’s far from the only situation in which clients have required immediate assistance. Other situations include car accidents, train derailments and civil unrest abroad, as well as natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes, snowstorms and tornadoes.
While travel usually goes smoothly ¬– only 11.3 percent of respondents indicated that they’d been involved in a Duty of Care situation for a business travel client – obviously emergencies can and do occur. It’s crucial for corporations to have someone who can act quickly when employees need urgent assistance. Often it is the corporate travel agent who has the level of expertise to provide that assistance, whether that means getting clients moved quickly to safety, arranging a new hotel or changing an airline reservation.
Because of Duty of Care obligations, many corporate travel policies expressly forbid their employees from using alternative suppliers, or the “sharing economy,” for accommodations or transportation while they’re traveling on company business.
More than half of the survey respondents – 55.4 percent – reported that none of their business travel clients use an alternative supplier for accommodations, while 34 percent say that 1 to 10 percent use them. In the event of an emergency, it can be difficult to locate employees who use these services instead of a hotel, for example.
When it comes to ground transportation, only about 10 percent say that 51 percent or more of business clients are using alternative suppliers. Duty of Care comes into play here, too. There is no guarantee that a vehicle in the “sharing economy” has been subjected to the same maintenance or regulation as a rental car or licensed taxi.
Nearly all of Travel Leaders’ agents indicate that they book hotels for at least some of their business clients, with about 70 percent arranging accommodations for more than half of these travelers. When it comes to the hotel categories that a majority of business travel clients book, about 55 percent choose upper upscale accommodations, while nearly 24 percent pick upper midscale and 14.5 percent book luxury hotels. Likewise, about 95 percent of respondents say that at least some of their business travel clients add car rental reservations to their itineraries.
For help planning a business trip anywhere across the country or around the world, contact your travel agent at 775-324-1777.