by S. S. Yoga | November 19, 2019
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Given a choice between filling an expense report and getting a cavity filled, 24% said they'd rather go to the dentist. (Wikimedia Commons)

Business travel can be stressful business.

To understand the challenges and how companies can minimise these, travel and expense management company SAP Concur commissioned a survey of 7,850 business travellers from 19 global markets, including Australia, China/Hong Kong/Taiwan, India, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Personal safety not yet a priority
Among the findings is that personal safety is not emphasised by companies. At least 31% of business travellers say, safety is paramount on the road. Yet over half (54%) who work in companies with a formal travel policy say their safety is not one of their company's top priorities. Nearly 65% of employees feel their companies were out of step with their needs.

At least two-thirds (67%) of business travellers believe their company lags behind in adopting the latest technologies to make business travel easier and a third (33%) actually feel strongly about this.

The stress of filing expenses

Globally, more than nine in 10 (94%) business travellers described their company's travel policy as either structured (58%) or somewhat structured (36%).

When asked which phase of the business trip is most stressful, nearly two in five (37%) say that they were more stressed before the trip as they had to plan, book and organise the trip. Interestingly, 24% were stressed after the trip, expressing that they rather visit the dentist to fill a cavity than file an expense report.

When asked about the longest length of time it has taken to be reimbursed for their expense report, business travellers report an average 12-day wait. Furthermore, a quarter (25%) reported that they have waited 15 days or more.

But for many, the problems surrounding reimbursements isn't just a matter of when - it is a question of if they will get reimbursed at all. More than two in five (43%) worldwide were not reimbursed for an expense in 2018.

The average reported by business travellers who were not reimbursed in 2018? US$893.

Using technology
Online booking tools (OBT) are particularly popular with frequent business travellers, with 43%, saying they like to use them.

But even those who have an online booking tool at their disposal still continue to look elsewhere, with the majority (62%) booking through online travel agencies/sites (compared to 49% of those without online booking tools). More than 2 in 5 (43%) with an OBT are still booking through their companies' travel agency or department, compared to 34% of those without OBTs.

Of the features that business travellers value the most in business travel mobile applications, the ability to book a hotel (40%) came up on top, followed by the ability to view and manage their itinerary (39%). This was followed closely by both mobile check-in (37%) and the ability to book air travel (37%).

Am I safe?
Nearly three in five (58%) business travellers have changed their travel accommodations specifically because they felt unsafe. This is especially common in Asia-Pacific (63%) and the Americas (63%) and less common in Europe (51%).

Female business travelers are especially attuned to safety concerns when travelling, in part because of experiences they have actually had. More than three in four (77%) female business travelers have had a negative experience related to their gender, most commonly being asked if they're travelling with their husbands (42%), being ignored by service workers (38%), having fellow business travellers assume they are hotel employees (31%) or being catcalled (31%).

When it comes to safety, business travellers are looking to their employers to take the lead: they believe safety trainings would be the most important educational tool an employer could provide (52%).