As business travel costs continue to rise in the Asia Pacific region, corporations are increasingly deploying tighter travel policies and are looking to corporate travel management companies (TMCs) to implement their travel policy standards as a means of better managing costs.
According to BCD Travel, an expanding global economy is driving strong growth in business travel, with resultant higher rates and fares. Based on projections recently released in its 2008 Industry Forecast, BCD Travel concludes that there is very little room for error for companies struggling to control costs. Furthermore, these tight market conditions are placing a higher demand on the skills and expertise of travel buyers and travelers to meet policy requirements while effectively conducting company business.
Mr. Roger Pfund, general manager and vice president, Asia Pacific Operations, BCD Travel, said: “With global airfares predicted to increase by two percent to four percent, hotel room rates going up by an average of six percent to nine percent and meeting costs increasing at a rate of eight percent to ten percent in 2008, corporations in the Asia Pacific region are facing tighter cost controls on travel and are increasingly looking to companies such as BCD Travel to monitor compliance and report variations from policy. We’re seeing a push by our corporate clients to make travel policy more restrictive, while putting added pressure on their travelers to stay well within policy parameters.”
Pfund added, “Travel policy is also determined by corporate culture and varies from client to client, with some far less willing to consider traveler comfort in the face of higher costs. Cultural issues also come into play in Asia, with some countries pushing their TMCs to take strong direct action with travelers who try to book out of policy. We see this happening in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong - whereas Thailand’s and Japan’s social patterns often frown on more direct action taken at the point of sale by the TMC.
To assist corporations in keeping a strict eye on their travel policies, BCD Travel in Asia Pacific uses point-of-sale travel policy monitoring technology, combined with post-sale management reports.
Travel policy constraints are not the only concerns facing business travelers. Pfund concluded, “We expect travelers will continue to experience extended flight times, escalating airport chaos due to flight cancellations and congestion and long lines at airport security checkpoints. Companies will need to focus on helping their travelers stay productive in less than optimal conditions.”