It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that generative artificial intelligence (AI) will be an essential issue for the world of corporate travel and expense in 2024 and beyond. But how much trust do business travelers and travel managers have in this fast-developing technology, and what does that say about its future in the industry?
Learning sentiment around generative AI is one of the key findings in the seminal annual survey and report produced by Skift and Navan for 2024: The State of Corporate Travel and Expense. For the past five years, we’ve been collaborating with Skift to collect data and produce this report, and this year was no different. In October 2023, Skift sent the comprehensive survey, which covered a wide range of topics pertinent to the business travel and expense industry, to 778 business travelers and 689 travel and finance managers, based primarily in the U.S., UK, France, and Germany.
How many business trips do employees predict they’ll take over the next 12 months? Find out: Download The State of Corporate Travel and Expense 2024 now.
One of the topline findings: Business travel is not only back from the pandemic, but companies once again recognize its essential role in driving business success. Back in 2019, 90% of travelers either “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed that business travel was an important driver of company growth, and around 80% of travelers and managers responded that in-person meetings beat video chatting for effectiveness. While these numbers understandably slipped over the ensuing years, those numbers are finally back to where they were pre-pandemic. Travel is also still seen as an essential tool in today’s hybrid environment, despite more employees saying they’ve returned to the office at least some of the time.
As business travel has returned, employees said their enthusiasm for blended travel has too, after an unsurprising pandemic-related dip. And with more recognition of work-life balance, employers are increasingly enthusiastic about employees tacking on some personal time to a business trip. In fact, some are even contributing funds to help their travelers make the most of their time off.
What percentage of travelers said they get a stipend for personal travel? Download The State of Corporate Travel and Expense 2024 to find out.
Of course, the experience of business travel is closely tied to the platform employees are using. Traditionally, many travelers and managers have expressed disappointment with their solutions, especially legacy platforms that aren’t user-friendly or allow for the creation of nuanced, dynamic corporate travel policies. Unfortunately, those attitudes persist, and the effect has been leakage and lower compliance. In fact, compliance rates are falling: This year, the number of managers who said they had 100% compliance dropped a full 3 percentage points from the 2023 report.
Declining compliance rates are one of the reasons there’s increasing enthusiasm for more modern platforms that combine travel, corporate cards, and expense. And while some companies expressed hesitation over making a switch, other companies are reaping the benefits, such as easier ways to pay for travel and other expenses. In 2019, 77% of travelers and 69% of managers said employees were using a personal card to pay for expenses while traveling. Those employees must then wait for reimbursement, which is not only one more thing to keep track of, but which may also not come quickly. This year’s survey shows that the number of companies using corporate cards vs. personal cards has skyrocketed. It’s great news for employees as well as finance teams, which can more easily track and forecast expenses.
Of course, generative AI will be a major issue in 2024, and the Skift report includes an entire section devoted to this technology that’s in a state of hyper-acceleration, including attitudes around it and what the effect may be on corporate travel.
This report is a staple that travelers and managers alike look forward to reading each year. It helps them to get a jump on the trends happening now and to take the pulse on where we might be a year from now. Don’t miss it!
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