What’s Keeping European Travel Managers Awake at Night? 

According to a new report that speaks with business travel managers across Europe, costs remain a cause for concern as corporate travel programmes continue their revival. 

The surging cost of airfares, hotels, ground transportation and amenities is the number one concern for European corporate travel managers, according to 65% of respondents to Cvent’s Travel Managers Report for Europe, released this month.

Those in France and the UK are the most concerned by costs (73% in each market). Almost a third of corporate travel managers also say that financial factors will shape their 2024 business travel programmes.

Some 80% of business travel managers in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands told the report that they’ve had to get more creative to make their budgets stretch further.

Around 40% now combine business trips with existing meetings and events to reduce costs, while 37% have reduced the number of employees permitted to travel (this rises to 43% in France).

More than a fifth (22%) of respondents meanwhile say they will schedule fewer trips but will extend the duration of stays.

The 2023 Cvent Travel Managers Report for Europe, carried out in partnership with Censuswide, further details travel managers’ sourcing plans and priorities for the year ahead, along with what hotels are doing right and where they can improve.

Coinciding with hotel room price increases, around a third (34%) of respondents say they will need to negotiate lower hotel room rates for 2024, even if that means travellers having a less convenient experience.

Almost half (46%) - rising to 57% in Spain - say they’ll be requesting group/meeting rates. Nearly a third (31%) say they’ll be requesting dynamic rates, while 30% will negotiate around extended stay rates. 

Over half (51%) of travel managers cite ‘unreasonable rates’ as the key reason they’d avoid rebooking a particular hotel while 37% say negotiating with hotels is their biggest challenge during the travel sourcing and RFP process. Travel managers want partners who make the process smooth and are willing to collaborate.

Moreover, 30% now seek information on hotels' sustainability initiatives when researching properties.

Factors like green certifications, recycling policies, and energy conservation influence RFP decisions. Almost a fifth (19%) cite sustainability programmes as the most influential factor in their decision to submit an RFP to a particular hotel for their corporate travel programme.

This also tallies with the 26% of business travel managers who believe an increased emphasis on sustainability will shape their priorities during the next two years

As detailed in IBTM World’s Incentive Travel Report 2023, the number of people participating in corporate and incentive travel programmes worldwide will recover by 48% this year and grow by 61% in 2024, compared to 2019.

The 2023 Cvent Travel Managers Report for Europe concurs with this rate of recovery. And, despite all their concerns about increasing costs and an exacting list of requirements during the RFP process, 80% of respondents feel positive about the state of business travel activity today. Travel managers in Italy are particularly positive (92%) compared with 76% of UK travel managers. 

To read more on the insights from over 600 corporate travel managers from across Europe, download the latest Cvent Travel Managers Report here.

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