Business Travel Program Simplification Relies on Improved Prioritization, Stakeholder Alignment

New study identifies the importance of seamless, streamlined travel processes; points to improved communication with travelers and stakeholders as avenue to success.

A new study published today by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) in collaboration with HRS, “Simplifying Managed Travel 2.0,” finds that travel program leaders are committed to simplifying the business travel experience, yet face multiple obstacles as they prioritize the initiative.

Today’s business travelers are accustomed to the intuitive experience of booking personal travel, which has been streamlined by single-stop platforms like apps and websites. Akin to the 2017 study, “Simplifying Managed Travel,” the 2019 study illustrates that travel buyers remain committed to the idea of streamlining the business travel experience. In 2017, 72% of travel buyers indicated that initiatives to improve the effectiveness of their business travel programs support the overall goals of their companies. In the 2019 study, that number rose to a nearly universal 97%.

Program leaders generally express three core objectives for simplification: cost savings for the organization, enhancing duty of care and boosting employee productivity. Each of these can be improved, to varying degrees, by streamlining the travel program.

Overcoming Barriers & Engaging the Most Supportive Internal Stakeholders

The most significant barrier to simplification is competing organizational priorities, a challenge identified by nearly half (46%) of travel buyers. Secondary challenges can vary by program size; respondents from programs that spend $50 million+ annually cited limited staff, while medium-size programs noted the lack of senior leadership support.

Overcoming these barriers requires alignment with internal and external stakeholders. However, the top four departments named by respondents as most helpful with implementing simplification initiatives illustrate how managed travel has changed over the past two decades:

  • Risk/Security: 49%
  • Procurement: 46%
  • Communications: 44%
  • Travelers: 41%


“Program leaders can see a real opportunity in these results,” said Greeley Koch, vice president of marketing for HRS. "The procurement and risk management groups have a mature grasp of the importance of travel, and they are engaged to help programs improve. And when you get the travelers on board, they can help expedite achievement of the highest goals. It’s noteworthy that HR and executive sponsorship – while always important to have aligned – do not rank among the top four."

"These findings point to an opportunity for travel buyers as leaders at their organizations," said Leigh Bochicchio, executive director, ACTE. "Buyers know the benefits of simplification and have compelling arguments in its favor – being able to channel their expertise will help them secure leadership buy-in for prioritizing simplification and demonstrate the great value they bring to their businesses."



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