New study identifies the challenges to consistent program quality measurement for travel buyers and provides counsel on how to improve assessment metrics

UTRECHT, The Netherlands — Nov. 21, 2019 — Travel buyers are always working to improve the travel experience for their organizations and employees, but a new study published today by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) in collaboration with BCD Travel, “Quality Management in Business Travel 2.0,” finds that the metrics best suited for evaluating the success of the holistic travel experience remain misunderstood and, as a result, crucially underutilized.

Travel buyers have laid the groundwork for measuring program success, focusing on key financial metrics: Spend and savings continues to be the most popular form of measurement, with 91% of travel buyers using this data to inform their travel programs. Buyers are also consistently keeping track of booking statistics (84%).

But travel buyers want a more holistic view of their programs. They are aligned on the data they want to use to measure the success of their programs, with 52% saying measuring factors like trip success and traveler friction can help their organization better understand traveler needs, as well as improve services (47%) and policy compliance (37%).

“Unlike traditional, financial measurements, these types of metrics pose a unique challenge for travel buyers – they are inherently subjective to the traveler, and there isn’t a single, industry-wide definition for them, which is making it very tricky to measure,” said Miriam Moscovici, senior director, Research & Innovation at BCD Travel.

“This study creates a unique opportunity for the industry to come together and transform the way we measure the quality of travel programs,” said Leigh Bochicchio, executive director, ACTE. “Creating a well-framed rubric for gathering objective and subjective data will provide a more balanced view of the value and success of a corporate travel program – and the corporate travel manager.”

Barriers to change persist
Travel buyers suggest a lack of reliable data is a key obstacle to better quality measurement in business travel. Almost two-thirds (62%) of respondents find that many important metrics are difficult to measure accurately: Available data can be fragmented (29%) and unreliable (21%). As a result, buyers are left having to draw conclusions from incomplete data sets, creating a greater margin of error when making changes to the travel program.

However, when it comes to more nebulous – albeit, possibly better – measurements like trip success, travel buyers currently rely on self-reported traveler feedback. Unfortunately, respondents find this method of data collection particularly unreliable, with 40% saying it can be misleading, and 33% saying they tend to receive a low response rate to requests for traveler feedback.

Overall, this study has found that travel managers are deeply committed to improving their travel programs, and generally agree on where they want to go – but they still need help on how to get there. The key to overcoming barriers to change, then, is collaboration and consensus-building – something this study has already advanced.

About Quality Measurement in Corporate Travel 2.0

To produce this report, ACTE sought insight from 221 corporate travel industry delegates who attended global events hosted by ACTE and BCD Travel in the United States, Canada and Brazil. ACTE and BCD Travel representatives conducted various focus group sessions at these events, which occurred between April and September 2019. During these sessions, ACTE and BCD Travel gleaned perspectives from and collaborated with members across the corporate travel sector, including buyers, suppliers and other industry representatives – with the goal of generating industry-wide consensus around a standard for quality measurement. The project remains ongoing.

About BCD Travel

BCD Travel helps companies make the most of what they spend on travel. We give travelers innovative tools that keep them safe and productive, and help them make good choices on the road. We partner with travel and procurement leaders to simplify the complexities of business travel, drive savings and satisfaction, and move whole companies toward their goals. In short, we help our clients travel smart and achieve more. We make this happen in 109 countries with almost 13,800 creative, committed and experienced people. And it’s how we maintain the industry’s most consistent client retention rate, with 2018 sales of US$27.1 billion. For more information, visit www.bcdtravel.com.

About BCD Group

BCD Group is a market leader in the travel industry. The privately-owned company was founded in 1975 by John Fentener van Vlissingen and consists of BCD Travel (global corporate travel management), BCD Meetings & Events (global meetings and events agency), Travix (online travel: CheapTickets, Vliegwinkel, BudgetAir, Flugladen and Vayama), Park ‘N Fly (off-airport parking) and Airtrade (consolidation and fulfillment). BCD Group employs over 14,900 people and operates in 109 countries with total sales of US$29.8 billion in 2018, including US$10.7 billion partner sales. For more information, visit www.bcdgroup.com.