Sabre survey reveals the shifting shape of corporate travel

Corporate travel agents and TMCs across APAC outline the new trends in the corporate travel landscape, and how they are adjusting their business models to adapt to them.

SINGAPORE – Sabre Corporation, a leading software and technology provider that powers the global travel industry, announced the results of a new survey of travel agents and Travel Management Companies (TMCs) in APAC, which reveals the changing face of corporate travel as industry recovery continues to gain strength.

The research was carried out with respondents across Asia Pacific, in five languages in 21 countries, to gain insight into the evolving expectations of business travelers, and how corporate sellers in the region are adapting to service these new demands.

Respondents pointed to a growing need for the corporate travel industry to tailor service offerings for new workforce realities, such as remote and blended working arrangements, while embracing technology to capitalize on, and drive, ongoing recovery.

Key findings included:

  • The majority of corporate travel agents (84%) have changed their business priorities as a result of the pandemic, and are now focused on optimizing costs and efficiencies, while meeting customer and business demands with fewer employees.
  • Four-fifths of respondents have adopted new technological solutions to manage Covid-19 related risk over the past two years. And, of those who haven’t, 42% plan to do so within the next two years. The most popular solutions are travel risk management tools, automated workflows and virtual payment tools.
  • Half of agents said a rise in internal corporate travel, to bring remote workers together, will create recovery opportunities, while 45% said emerging corporate travel markets are important for growth.
  • There’s strong optimism in the market, with 82% saying they expect a return to pre-pandemic corporate travel levels, and 15% expecting a boom greater than pre-Covid-19, within the next 12 months.
  • More than two-thirds of respondents have seen an increase in bookings in the three months to August. Most are reporting an increase of not more than 30% but there’s a notable 14% with an increase of more than 50%.
  • 55% say company Covid-19-related travel restrictions are easing, and 38% say total travel spend is increasing.
  • Cost remains a key consideration. More than two-thirds have seen a moderate or significant increase in bookings with low-cost carriers. The trend is most prevalent in North Asia where there’s been a 42% switch from FSCs to LCCs.
  • Corporate travelers place high priority on information, flexibility, and hygiene. However, companies are also turning their attention to sustainability as one of the key personalization priorities for corporate travel.

“Sabre’s own booking data is showing that corporate travel is coming back strong,” said Brett Thorstad, Vice President, Sabre Travel Solutions, Agency Sales, “so, it’s heartening to see those same results borne out among our travel agency partners through our new research.

“However, while business travel is rebounding, what is clear is that it is returning differently,” added Mr Thorstad. “It is important, as an industry, that we understand these changes, and the reasons for them, and we are prepared to drive our own evolution, supported by robust technology. In this way, we can power increased revenue and efficiency across the travel ecosystem, while ensuring corporate travel agents are best placed to create the frictionless, tailored experiences that business travelers want and expect.”