Amex GBT: Buyers Face Challenges On Quest For End-to-End Travel Management

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

End-to-end travel management, where every step – from booking to payments, expense management and reporting – is integrated into a single seamless process, has long been a goal for corporate travel buyers. 

But a new report finds a large majority (72%) saying their programmes are only somewhat integrated. Published today by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) in collaboration with American Express Global Business Travel (GBT), “The Journey to Integrated Travel Management” examines how evolving technology and the varying needs of organizations’ stakeholders create barriers and gateways to true program integration.

Integration Priorities & Objectives
Online booking tools (OBTs), not surprisingly, are the most commonly integrated element of respondents’ programs (92%), followed by corporate cards (74%) and expense management platforms (60%). In terms of drivers of integration, travel managers rank visibility and control of expenses (70%), improved user experience (65%) and duty of care (58%) as their top three priorities.

Barriers & Resistance
Almost a quarter (22%) of travel managers have no further plans to integrate. Respondents identify a number of barriers to progress, including lack of resources (25%) and a perceived lack of internal and stakeholder support (30%). However, business travellers pose the biggest challenge to integration, with 37% of respondents reporting traveller adoption and unwillingness to change as their top barrier – despite the fact that travellers are also one of the main drivers for end-to-end integration, cited by more than a third (34%) of respondents.

“The corporate travel manager’s core mission is to set up business travellers for success – and integration efforts are key to creating these conditions,” said Leigh Bochicchio, executive director, ACTE. “Having to navigate a constellation of tools and technology to plan a trip can hinder productivity for travellers. End-to-end travel programs solve this issue, and at the end of the day, everyone wins: the traveller, the travel manager and the organization as a whole.”

Supporting Change
Internal stakeholders in procurement (53%) and finance (45%) are top drivers of change, with business travellers just behind. Knowing that cost-savings and compliance are key objectives for integration, it’s important for travel buyers to secure buy-in from these stakeholder groups.

The complexity of end-to-end integration demands not only internal advocacy but support from all partners in the travel workflow. Travel managers say that technology platform providers (62%), travel management companies (TMCs) (59%), payment providers (39%) and suppliers (33%) are instrumental in helping them achieve integration.

The report offers advice on change management and getting the support and buy-in from the range of stakeholders and partners needed to implement more integrated travel programs.

Bruno Murray, Vice President at American Express Global Business Travel, said: “With advances in technology and services, a truly integrated travel and expense management ecosystem is achievable, delivering a better user experience, and efficiencies and control to buyers and their organizations. Barriers to integration can be overcome with the right technologies and change management expertise – and I encourage all travel buyers to challenge their TMCs to deliver on this.”

You can download the full report here.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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