That’s the trifecta of travel management, isn’t it? So which horse would you bet on to deliver these wins – the one with, or without, a jockey? The managed travel program, or the unmanaged travel program?
GBTA’s “Global Business Traveler Study 2012”, a 72-page report, shows the winner is the unmanaged program – and it’s not even a close race. That’s the conclusion I draw from the study’s facts as they pertain to U.S. travelers.
- 82% of unmanaged travelers are very satisfied with their business travel over the last 12 months, compared to 70% of managed travelers (page 20)
- Unmanaged travelers score notably higher on GBTA’s Business Travel Success Index (TM), than managed travelers (page 24) . This index takes 14 factors into account, such as “Staying within my travel budget”, “Minimizing in-transit travel hassles that inconvenience me”, and “Making sure I feel safe when traveling”. (page 72)
OK, so you’re thinking “Well, of course…those unmanaged travelers are treating themselves like royalty on the road. I’d be happy, too, if I didn’t have to comply with a travel policy.”
Here’s the kicker: The average unmanaged business trip costs 33% less than in a mandated program – $2,457 compared to $3,663. And the unmanaged trip is 15% longer than the average trip in a mandated program – 3.9 nights versus 3.4 nights. (pages 8, 32).
Some of that cost differential is apparently due to more international travel by those in a mandated program. Still, trip costs and their international mix were nearly the same between unmanaged travel and those from “guideline” programs: $2,457 unmanaged versus $2,536 for those under guidelines (pages 32, 35).
You can’t conclude from this report that managing travel saves money. You can conclude that managing travelers decreases their satisfaction and their ability to achieve their travel-related goals.
So why are we managing travel? Why not just scrap the overhead costs, and trust travelers to do the right thing?
I think it comes down to three factors: Culture, data and safety. I’ll expand on this in my next post. Update: That next post is here.
GBTA members can download a free copy of the report after logging in to the GBTA Resource Directory. Non-members can purchase a copy of the report for $499, but you may be better off joining GBTA – membership types and prices are here.
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