Corporate travellers expect flexibility, sustainability post-pandemic, SAP Concur study show

KUALA LUMPUR: Despite the prevailing economic volatility, Malaysian and Asia-Pacific (APAC) corporate travellers are more willing to travel for business but with higher expectations to prioritise safety, flexibility and sustainability.

A recent study indicated that nearly all (94 per cent) business travellers believe that the future of their career depends on successful business travel in the coming year.

It was conducted by solutions provider SAP Concur and polled 1,050 business travellers from Malaysia and countries such as Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, three-fifths of participants were 'very willing' to travel for business, with some 46 per cent believing that it was vital to maintain customer relationships.

While there is a greater inclination to travel, 93 per cent of APAC business travellers expect flexibility to book travel outside of company policy when policy conflicts with their needs or values.

Flexible arrangements include employers allowing staff to book travel outside of company policy to help facilitate a healthy work-life balance (53 per cent) and a rising priority to book more sustainable travel options (40 per cent).

Meanwhile, two-fifths of business travellers expect their company to allow them to make travel choices outside of company policy to book more sustainable travel options.

90 per cent of travellers said they would take extra steps over the next 12 months to reduce the environmental impact of their business travel.

Nearly a quarter would also directly decline a business trip if they had concerns about the environmental impact of the travel.

The study also found that many travellers were going outside their company's purview to book business travel, thus hampering their employer's visibility into travel spend.

Half of APAC business travellers book their travel directly using an airline, hotel or car rental company's website or app, while slightly fewer use their company's travel agency or department (41 per cent).

Also, more than a third of business travellers said they would decline business trips that do not allow them to make adjustments outside company policy.

Concur president Charlie Sultan said that organisations must seek solutions that can help meet traveller expectations within the capacity of corporate travel programmes and budgets.

"Tools, policies and practices to maintain travel expenditure visibility and control, meet compliance and deliver employee duty of care obligations must be top of mind," he said in a statement.

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