If we know one thing for certain, it’s that over the last couple of years we’ve experienced a paradigm shift in the way that business gets done. From how companies address the needs of their employees to how they work with their customers, these changes have had a profound impact across various industries, and the transportation sector is no different.
According to a Global Business Travel Association survey in June 2022, 83% of business travel professionals said their company had already resumed domestic business travel. Sixty-three percent had resumed international business travel, up about 30 percentage points since GBTA’s February 2022 poll.
With corporate travel and in-person meetings increasingly returning, businesses need to be extra thoughtful about how they’re implementing—or re-implementing—travel programs.
In conjunction with this meaningful return to business travel, Uber for Business and GBTA have published a first-ever ground transportation report, “The Corporate Travel Comeback: The Evolution of Ground Transportation and Other Trending Business Travel Topics,” based on a quantitative survey of corporate travel managers across the US and Canada.
In partnering with GBTA, the world’s premier association representing the global business travel industry, Uber for Business is uncovering pressing concerns and considerations from travel managers at some of the world’s largest companies.
Shifting priorities: from safety to sustainability
The report finds that travel managers are laser-focused on a few key considerations when it comes to business travel. When thinking about their company’s current approach to managing ground transportation, survey respondents identified some of the top strengths of their travel programs, as well as notable areas for improvement.
- Travel managers rethink priorities: Most travel managers say their programs are more focused on traveler safety/well-being (75%), sustainability/social responsibility (55%), and travel policy compliance/enforcement (53%) than they were 2 years ago.
- Ridesharing and rental cars top the list: Most travel managers say their company’s employees “frequently” use rental cars (82%) and rideshare apps (70%) on work trips, but fewer than half (48%) say employees frequently use taxis.
- Ground transportation goes premium: Most travel policies at least sometimes allow chauffeured transportation/black car service (74%), premium ridesharing (68%), and premium/luxury rental cars (51%). Roughly one-third say their company’s employees “sometimes” or “frequently” use chauffeured transportation (36%) or premium ridesharing, such as Uber Black and UberXL (30%).
- Sustainability is top priority, despite the cost: An overwhelming majority (84%) say sustainability is at least “somewhat important” in the design of their company’s travel program, with 50% saying it is “very or extremely important.” However, not all are willing to incur significant additional cost in order to achieve more sustainable outcomes. Only 6% of respondents say their company currently allows employees to spend more on sustainable travel options, while an additional one-quarter (26%) are considering allowing employees to spend more.
- Business and leisure, better together: Ninety percent of respondents say employees are more (30%) or equally (60%) as interested in bleisure travel (adding vacation days to their work trips), compared with pre-pandemic times. Although 36% say their company’s travel policy expressly allows bleisure trips, 49% say their policy does not, but employees are often allowed to take these trips in practice.
Business travel isn’t just about getting from point A to point B
In addition to airport rides, business managers are also thinking about where employees are getting their next meals between or during meetings and once the workday is done.
- Inflation’s impact on meals: Meal prices are rising because of sky-high inflation that’s expected to keep running hot. While almost one-third of respondents (29%) say their company has raised its spending limit or per diem for meals, a larger number (56%) say these are unchanged from last fiscal or calendar year.
- Food delivery is here to stay: More than half (55%) of travel managers say their company’s employees at least sometimes use food delivery apps on business trips, and 32% expect employees to use them more than they do today.
Next step: applying the data
As companies increasingly take business on the road, understanding travel managers’ priorities is more important than ever. The real action, however, lies in how companies are incorporating these findings into their own travel programs.
For Uber for Business, identifying these new priorities allows us to better help customers build more effective travel policies through relevant new products and features. The data is even more powerful when paired with the growth in the travel sector: Uber has seen airport rides grow 166% from the past year. It’s clear there’s a definitive increase in both business and consumer travel this year.
On a larger scale, the learnings from this report can help travel managers fine-tune and revamp business travel programs at their company and prepare for increased corporate travel as the year continues—taking into consideration business travelers’ needs at all stages of their journey.
To learn more about which priorities are top of mind for business travel managers, read the full report here.