Increased Demand for Business Travel

Research from Uber for Business indicates that rising climate concerns and sustainable reporting requirements are also driving changes in their travel policies.

By Maggie Mancini

Most U.K. travel managers (89%) say travel is a growing business priority in 2024, anticipating increased budgets driven by return-to-office policies, inflation, and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) reporting requirements. This is a key finding in new research from Uber for Business, a global platform managing rides and meals, which reveals the resurgent demand for business travel.  

The research, drawing insights from over 250 corporate travel managers across the U.K., reveals the top business travel trends and challenges to watch in the upcoming year. In this landscape of shifting dynamics, where emphasis on ESG requirements is intensifying, there is an increasing need for innovative travel management solutions.  

ESG reporting is becoming increasingly vital in corporate travel, as organisations seek to align travel practices with broader sustainability goals and government requirements. This shift is evident in the attitudes and practices of U.K. travel managers.  

  • More than half (61%) report that rising climate concerns are leading to significant changes in their travel policies.  
  • Approximately 39% consider ESG reporting a high priority when selecting vendors or partners, insisting that all partners offer green reporting.  
  • More than three-quarters (78%) express satisfaction with the ESG reporting capabilities of their current provider.  

U.K. travel managers are gearing up to tackle a range of challenges in 2024, including the following.  

  • One-third (33%) of respondents identify navigating evolving travel restrictions as a top concern.  
  • Approximately 31% highlight the need to ensure exceptional safety standards.  
  • More than a quarter (29%) point out the importance of adapting to traveller preferences, such as blending personal trips with business travel.  
  • More than half (53%) indicate that inflation and rising travel costs are expected to contribute to higher travel budgets in 2024.  
  • Approximately 52% foresee that evolving work habits, like hybrid working and return-to-office mandates, will inflate budgets.  
  • Half (51%) predict ESG requirements for more sustainable travel will push up budgets.  

In response, travel managers are setting clear priorities for the year ahead, emphasisng flexibility in travel choices and gathering employee feedback to respond effectively to real-time insights.  

There is a clear call among U.K. travel managers for new technology and solutions in response to the rapidly changing travel landscape. However, the sheer variety of tools available, each claiming to optimise different travel management aspects, poses a challenge in choosing the most effective and appropriate solutions.  

  • Nearly all (97%) plan to prioritise the adoption of new tech to keep pace with evolving demands.  
  • Nearly half (44%) describe their approach to tech adoption as proactive and rapid, actively and swiftly integrating the latest innovations.  
  • More than three-quarters (79%) agree that the abundance of tech resources can be overwhelming, underscoring the complexity and vastness of the tech landscape in the sector.  

The potential impact of generative AI on corporate travel is also gaining attention, highlighting significant trends and perspectives among U.K. travel managers. These include the following.  

  • More than three-quarters (77%) feel the influence of generative AI in their work, indicating its growing presence in the sector.  
  • Most (92%) anticipate this impact to escalate over the next five years.  
  • Nearly one-third (31%) foresee that AI will make their job more interesting, while 26% believe that AI might compete with their job.  

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