4 Top Business Travel Insights from the GBTA Webinar

Nov 9, 2023
Business Travel
business travellers in black cab taxi
Back in 2020, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and FREENOW partnered on a ground transportation study to get some insight into business travel trends across Europe. This year, they repeated the study to see how things have changed over the past three years compared to before the pandemic.

The study, titled ‘The Evolution of Ground Transportation for Business Travel: Perspectives from European Business Travellers and Travel Managers’ looks at how employees in Europe are travelling during work trips and how this aligns with travel managers’ business travel strategy.

GBTA’s Director of Research Chris Ely ran a webinar to present the findings of the study. Here are some of the most important business travel insights we learned from it.

Rail is the dominant mode of business travel

While rail travel has always been a popular mode of business travel, the report suggests it’s becoming ubiquitous since the pandemic.

Respondents were asked to look back at their pre-pandemic data to see how spending had changed (if at all) on different modes of ground travel since they took part in the 2020 study.

According to the data, businesses are investing more on employee rail travel than any other form of travel. 49% said they’d increased rail travel spending compared to pre-pandemic levels, and 50% said they’d increased spending on long-distance rail.

The data also showed that employees want to travel more by rail. Of the nine different modes of ground transportation options, rail came out top, with a massive 77% of employees saying they’re most interested in travelling by train on business trips.

So according to the study, both businesses and their employees are focusing more on passenger rail for business travel. And why is this? Well, a big part of that is to do with the planet…

Sustainability matters more now than ever

As Europe strives towards its Net Zero targets, it’s perhaps unsurprising that sustainability has become even more of a priority for travel managers over the last few years.

The data showed that travel managers are prioritising sustainability over an employee-focused or cost-focused business travel strategy. Nearly two-fifths (38%) of travel managers said their company’s approach to ground transportation today is more focused on sustainability and eco-friendly vehicles compared to before the pandemic.

A poll of those who attended the live webinar also revealed that 95% thought sustainability will become more of a priority at their company in the next 2-3 years. This suggests that these numbers will be even higher in the next report.

As part of travel managers’ sustainability targets, as much as 75% of respondents said they’re now tracking ground emissions from employee business travel, but 50% said they find it harder to accurately track ground emissions compared to emissions generated from air travel and hotels.

During the webinar, Felix Brand suggested that this would likely be due to a lack of good data availability. Some companies will use multiple different suppliers for ground travel, making it almost impossible to accurately track. Using a multi mobility app like FREENOW would ensure all emissions are tracked regardless of which travel mode is being used, and the data made freely available to travel managers.

Flexibility remains a top priority for business travellers

Something that is very clear from study and the webinar was that businesses need to accommodate for multiple modes of ground transportation options for when employees are travelling for work.

A massive 65% of business travellers said they will commonly use multiple modes of transportation on a single business trip. The data indicates a broad variety of interest in different modes of transport, and those presenting the webinar even shared some real-life stories of the different transport modes they themselves have used in a single day when visiting different countries for work.

As some ground transportation modes are more popular in some countries than others, it’s important that business travellers have maximum flexibility to switch from one mode to another through a mobility app like FREENOW.

Business travellers want to use ride-hailing apps

Another clear business travel trend that came out of the report was how ride-hailing apps are becoming embedded into how employees travel for business as well as in their personal life. 77% of business travellers said they use these apps during work trips and an equal 77% said they use them for personal trips.

Employees clearly want their employers to use ride-hailing apps for work trips too: 57% said they wanted their employers to have an official partnership with these apps, and 49% said they already do.

As ride-hailing apps become more ubiquitous in business travel, experts on the webinar suggested companies get more strategic to make the most of them.

For example, more than half (56%) of business travellers say they use the same app profile for work and personal trips, but Felix Brand spoke about how it’s much more beneficial to separate them out. If employees have a separate business-only account for ride hailing, they never have to deal with the admin of pulling out receipts for business trips when doing expenses.

If you’d like to view the business travel stats mentioned in this article, click the button below:

Download the webinar slides