Hogg Robinson’s insights into 2012 corporate travel

With projected continued global economic uncertainty in 2012, corporate service company Hogg Robinson Group (HRG), London, forecasts that while travel spend is expected to remain healthy there will be greater focus on forecasting costs and managing travel via mobile options to maximize efforts.

Stewart Harvey, group commercial director at HRG, said, “The economic outlook is driving companies to seek new business and this means prioritizing markets with the healthiest prospects for growth. As a result organizations will not necessarily spend more or less on travel in 2012, but they will spend differently.”

Harvey said his clients will be looking for greater control over travel options in traditional markets through smarter travel and travel alternatives for internal meetings, such as video conferencing. “Money saved can then be reallocated to allow greater focus on growing and emerging markets where the opportunity for new business is strongest such as China, India and Brazil,” he added.

As corporations look to control costs, HRG predicts most travel managers will be under pressure to look more closely at travel and expense authorization before trips are made. “Businesses are aiming for a firm handle on costs through advanced authorization, but there’s potential for bottlenecks if systems aren’t in place to facilitate smooth sign-off,” Harvey said. “Responsibility for authorizing travel typically falls to line-managers but, as they too are likely to be travellers, we expect to see increased demand for technologies which extend across desktop and mobile devices. Mobile control is a high priority for our clients, and as such HRG has developed authorization and reporting tools for smartphones as one way of helping them to be more effective.”  

HRG also expects the travel industry to once again come under pressure to provide greater transparency and standardization for ancillary fees. “When economic conditions are uncertain, the last thing businesses want are surprises, particularly when those surprises cost money,” Harvey said. “In addition to amplifying the debate around ancillary fees, we’ll also see more corporations using mobile technologies to reinforce travel policy among travelers.”

HRG believes demand for business travel will remain healthy in 2012, but expects suppliers to stay conservative in their outlook, controlling inventory and capacity to minimize exposure to risk. “As demand increases and capacity decreases, there are two primary challenges for clients – availability and access to the best price,” Harvey added. “Our value is realized when we work with clients to help them understand how and when they are travelling, and to identify opportunities through which they can make savings by changing existing travel habits.”