Last updated on January 17th, 2024 at 06:14 pm
Kristen Hrycoy, Senior Global Partner Business Manager at SAP Concur
Over the last year, organizations and their leaders have faced consistent and unprecedented challenges. From geo-political tensions to economic issues, many business leaders are looking to 2024 to see what challenges await and identify the best ways to tackle them.
This environment, for both employees and business leaders, will hold consequences for decision making. As employers plan for 2024, it will also test their ability to deliver on their plans in an effective way.
In this piece, I’ll outline three trends for employers to consider when looking at their travel and expense strategies for the coming year.
1. Emerging technology will boost confidence
In 2024, we expect to see emerging technologies, such as AI-powered automation and analytics, continue to help business leaders and their employers adapt to change, improve user experience, streamline data management, and make forecasting faster and more accurate. For example, instead of manually analysing the data to make informed guesses, someone in finance, travel, or operations could simply delegate that work to AI. This will enable them to focus on alternative work. Using generative AI, employees could then provide data-backed recommendations – factoring in patterns that a human may never even notice – like the ideal time to book a business trip or the optimal date for a team meeting to minimise travel costs, ensuring the company is using resources in the best way possible. Embracing AI, automation, and data analysis will help teams across the organisation bring more strategy to the table and find a greater sense of confidence amid the uncertainty.
2. Stricter travel policies and budgets will create business-travel tension Pricing trends and continued cautious budgeting will heighten tensions for willing travellers. According to recent SAP Concur research, 94 per cent of Canadian business travellers say their careers depend on traveling to visit customers, strengthen relationships, and build new ones. While in past years the pandemic was the main limiting factor, traveling for business is becoming a privilege and seen as increasingly for revenue generating only. 67 per cent of travellers feel they haven’t always had an equal opportunity to travel as others in their company. The demand for leisure travel is still out pacing business travel, which, coupled with an uncertain economy is driving up prices. As the global economic situation becomes uncertain, the “doing more with less” mantra that many companies will need to follow in 2024 will aggravate the situation.
3. Traveller wellbeing will become more critical than ever: While Duty of Care has always been an important and complex consideration, global uncertainty, a focus on sustainability and hybrid working trends like working from anywhere will require companies to treat it as a strategic priority. The rise of online booking tools years ago has replaced the once-centralised travel system as employees book travel themselves across multiple sites. Challenges like this make it more important than ever to capture complete reservation data, know where travellers are, stay connected, and get employees home quickly should an emergency arise. With climate change increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events is putting increase priority on travel wellbeing and the issue of duty of care is becoming even more relevant.
After enduring years of constant transformation, business leaders need to be able to plan, control and support all their employees, regardless of how they identify, where they are on the planet and what their next move is. By focusing on the three highlighted priorities in this article, travel and expense experts will be able to deliver strategic guidance and use the right technology to offer their employees opportunities and play their part in ensuring their business continues to be successful.