Readjusting travel spending in the recession


Produced by American Express Business Travel’s expert insights research team, a report has been compiled examining how corporations have adapted their travel programs in response to the global recession and if their programs are optimized for when travel does pick-up.

American Express Business Travel has introduced an interactive scorecard to measure travel program effectiveness. Research surveying attitudes and actions companies took to scale-back travel and plan for the future was conducted in tandem with the initiative and the findings released in a new expert insights report, Managing Travel in the New Normal. Most respondents to the Managing Travel in the New Normal survey indicated they believe travel demand will come back in 2010, albeit not to pre-recession levels any time soon.

The survey analysis provides insight into a variety of areas, including the traveler-centric future of managed travel, a move toward mandating policy and supplier compliance, a willingness of companies to make technology investments to support both travel and alternatives to travel, and taking actions to centralize meetings as the next area for procurement-led savings.

“In creating the scorecard, we first felt it important to objectively survey executives and managed travel professionals to find out what measures they took to readjust travel spending behaviors during the recession and if it would prepare them for the future,” said Lisa Durocher, senior vice president, global marketing, American Express Business Travel. “We then designed this interactive platform to help companies measure their own actions, benchmark their programs, and appropriately address their business travel strategy with real-time advice from our experts.”

Anyone responsible for oversight or management of travel can use this scorecard available at . A series of questions are asked related to travel, including demand management strategies, compliance practices, technology implementation, and data integration. Throughout the experience, users are provided tangible advice and tips from American Express consultants, strategic program managers, and business travel executives. Several methods for determining results, including a real-time benchmarking feature based on the expert insights survey data responses, inform users how they fare in comparison to others who answered similar questions in the survey.

Survey respondents anecdotally reported that their travelers increasingly desire to leave their laptops behind, and these companies have also seen demand for mobile services increase. Respondents also suggested personal mobile services are seen as a potential threat to a traditional managed travel environment.

Survey results showed that more than 40 percent of C-level executives are willing to spend on new virtual meetings technologies. This finding indicates that top decision-makers likely view the concept of virtual travel as a beneficial investment and supports the idea that companies are transitioning from targeting cost reductions to a strategy built around more thoughtful spending to connect employees. For more information, visit .