Travel and Expense

9 Business Travel Trends to Watch

SAP Concur Team |

Business travel is poised for significant changes in the year ahead. From the integration of work and leisure to the evolving role of travel management companies, various trends are shaping the future of corporate travel, impacting operations, finances, and technology. 

Understanding these corporate travel trends helps travellers, planners, and executives prepare and respond strategically to ensure maximum efficiency, cost savings, and effective travel policies. 

Here’s a look at the nine business travel trends driving the industry forward. 

1. Digital Transformation in Business Travel 

Technology has long played a key role in travel management, and its influence is only expected to grow in 2024. From online corporate booking portals to cloud-based travel management programs, technology is making business travel easier and more efficient. 

Trip disruption technology is becoming increasingly available, monitoring flights and trains and alerting travellers and their employers about delays, cancellations, and alternatives. These tools help to minimize disruptions and downtime and create or initiate backup plans quickly. 

Better in-flight internet access is also in the works, as airlines and mobile carriers partner to provide high-speed internet connections, allowing employees to remain productive while in the air. 

Virtual queuing allows travellers to reserve a place in line at various airport touchpoints instead of waiting in a physical line. The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is one of the first in the United States to use the technology to solve crowded screening lines. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are advancing, helping virtual assistants understand traveller preferences and deliver more personalized search results. AI-powered tools also assist with live updates on flight statuses, virtual check-ins, touchless checkouts, and offer alerts. 

2. Bleisure Travel: Blending Business with Leisure 

The concept of bleisure travel, which involves blending business trips with leisure activities, has gained significant momentum, particularly among younger professionals. This trend reflects a shift in attitudes towards work-life balance, with employees leveraging flexible travel arrangements to explore new destinations and immerse themselves in diverse cultural experiences. From extending business trips to incorporating leisure activities into their itineraries, bleisure travel offers a refreshing approach to corporate travel. 

The bleisure trend also allows employees to work anywhere, checking spreadsheets while poolside or attending meetings while at a mountain resort. A recent Ernst & Young survey of 16,000 employees found that: 

  • 90% of employees want flexibility in when and where they work 
  • 54% will quit if not given the flexibility they desire 
  • 65% believe a hybrid work arrangement can increase productivity and creativity 
  • 54% believed it will positively impact the ability to solve problems efficiently 

In an SAP Concur Conversations podcast, Rachel D'Argenio, Americas Mobility Market Leader for EY, noted that hybrid work, including bleisure, is highly complex, with policy, tax, retention and productivity questions needing to be resolved. 

"When you're looking at either remote or hybrid work, companies are then thinking about, 'Well, do I allow work from home only, or do I allow work from anywhere and what does this really mean?' " D'Argenio said. 

3. Sustainability Initiatives: Integrating Eco-Friendly Practices in Travel Programs  

With growing awareness of environmental issues, sustainability has emerged as a key consideration in corporate travel. Organizations are increasingly embracing eco-friendly practices, such as opting for alternative modes of transportation, choosing accommodations with green certifications, and implementing paperless travel policies. By prioritizing sustainability, companies not only reduce their carbon footprint but also demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility. 

For example, some travellers will look at alternatives to air travel when practical to reduce their carbon footprint. Others will ask for paperless travel itineraries and confirmations, look to stay in hotels that use sustainable practices, or seek to rent electric cars when on the road. Corporate travel departments are also producing annual reports that quantify and highlight their commitment to sustainability. 

4. Safety and Well-Being: Trends in Traveller Security 

The aftermath of the pandemic has underscored the importance of traveller safety and well-being. As travel gradually resumes, stringent safety protocols are being implemented to ensure the health and security of travellers. Technologies such as self-service passenger screening and biometric identification are revolutionizing airport security, enhancing efficiency while minimizing contact. Moreover, companies are prioritizing employee wellness, offering resources and support to address physical and emotional health concerns during travel. 

The TSA is slated to introduce self-service passenger screening for PreCheck passengers at Las Vegas’ Harry Reid International Airport with the aim of reducing the number of bag searches and pat-downs. Passengers enter an individual screening console and scan their ID. Technology then scans their bags for prohibited items and screens the passengers. There are automated entry and exit doors and if there’s a problem, TSA staff are notified to assist. 

Biometrics will likely play an increasing role in screening, ultimately replacing physical identification and speeding up screening times. 

In a post-pandemic travel reality, the employer’s duty of care obligations take on increasingly more complex components. In addition to protecting employees while on the road, duty of care is focusing increasingly on employee wellness, focusing on physical and emotional health. New programs are also addressing ways to expand employee wellness definitions to address the unique needs travellers have. 

5. Budgeting and Savings Strategies: Optimizing Compromising Quality  

In an era of economic uncertainty, cost optimization remains a top priority for organizations. Integrated travel and expense management solutions are enabling companies to streamline processes, reduce administrative overheads, and achieve significant cost savings. By consolidating travel-related expenses and leveraging data analytics, finance professionals can gain valuable insights into spending patterns, identify areas for optimization, and negotiate favourable deals with travel suppliers — all while simplifying and streamlining the corporate travel process for travellers and travel managers alike. 

6. The Evolution of Travel Management Companies (TMCs): What’s new? 

As the dynamics of business travel evolve, travel management companies (TMCs) are adapting to meet the changing needs of travellers and organizations. Digital-first approaches, sustainability initiatives, and flexible booking options are reshaping the TMC landscape. Moreover, TMCs are leveraging advanced technologies to enhance user experiences, streamline booking processes, and provide personalized services tailored to individual preferences. 

The digital-first approach, along with a focus on sustainability and hybrid work, means TMCs must be versatile and able to deliver multiple modes of transportation and lodging to meet disparate demographics and traveller expectations. 

TMCs also need to be nimble to address the growing number of weather-related disruptions to global travel and the expectations to reduce corporate carbon footprints. 

Self-scheduling and booking continue to increase, meaning TMCs are spending time fine-tuning user interfaces on web and mobile applications. Easing the booking process helps to drive efficiency for travellers (and their assistants) and lead to better adoption rates. 

7. Collaboration Across Departments: Aligning Business Travel with Organizational Goals  

In an increasingly interconnected business environment, collaboration across departments is essential for aligning business travel with organizational goals. Finance, HR, and travel management teams are collaborating closely to develop cohesive travel policies, optimize travel budgets, and align travel initiatives with strategic objectives. By fostering cross-functional collaboration, organizations can ensure that business travel serves as a strategic enabler rather than a logistical burden. 

8. Corporate Incentives to Entice Business 

With business travel gradually rebounding, travel providers are offering enticing incentives to attract corporate clients. Cashback offers, loyalty rewards, and exclusive perks are being leveraged to incentivize companies to choose specific airlines, hotels, and rental car agencies. While these incentives can yield significant savings for organizations, they also present challenges in terms of brand loyalty and traveller satisfaction. 

9. Addressing Multi-Channel Travel Realities 

The proliferation of booking channels has transformed the way travellers plan and book their trips. From online travel agencies to direct bookings with suppliers, travellers have access to a plethora of options, each offering unique advantages. As the traditional corporate travel model gives way to a multi-channel approach, organizations must adapt their policies and technologies to accommodate diverse booking preferences. By embracing flexibility and transparency, companies can empower travellers to make informed decisions while ensuring compliance with corporate policies. 

Airlines, for example, are backing out of the global distribution system (GDS), Technologies are continually disrupting the industry. And travellers, more than ever, want their frequent-traveller points for air bookings and hotel stays. 

This new modality differs greatly from the traditional corporate travel model, with a preferred corporate travel agent booking and managing travel for business clients. 

Travellers today demand, and expect choice. Gone are the days of calling a corporate travel agent, who tells you the flight you’ll take and the times. 

In a recent podcast, SAP Concur discussed the results of our annual Global Business Traveller and Travel Manager surveys conducted in partnership with Wakefield Research. It showed that almost half of business travellers were booking their travel directly with suppliers. However, despite the lack of transparency, travel managers still need access to data and visibility into corporate travel spend. 

Corporate travel managers need solutions that allow them to manage the non-traditional spend. While some departments with enough resources are building their own solutions to track these multi-channel travel spends, the smartest approach is to future-proof your policies and approaches to travel management. 

That means understanding what the market is doing, what travellers are expecting and what the implications are for both. If employees consistently find off-platform cheaper fees, for example, stressing use of corporate portals for travel rings hollow. 

Organizations will continue to grapple with the issue and look, most often, to proven solutions like SAP Concur that provide data, ease of use and broad functionality to travellers and travel managers alike. 


In this dynamic landscape of business travel, SAP Concur remains committed to empowering finance and travel professionals with innovative solutions. From travel booking and expense management to data analytics and policy compliance, SAP Concur's comprehensive suite of solutions is designed to streamline travel processes, enhance traveller experiences, and drive cost savings.  

SAP Concur solutions include: 

  • Concur Travel, which enables employees to book their own travel while remaining compliant with corporate travel policies 
  • Concur Request, an application that simplifies travel expenses with a pre-purchase request and approval process 
  • Concur TripLink, which takes reservations made outside your travel management system and integrates them into SAP Concur while also connecting worldwide suppliers 
  • TripIt Pro, which brings itineraries booked anywhere into SAP Concur and creates comprehensive itineraries 
  • Concur Event Management by Groupize, an all-in-one solution for meeting and event planning 


Learn more about how SAP Concur can enhance your corporate travel program, helping your organization navigate the complexities of business travel and unlock new opportunities for success in 2024 and beyond. 

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