June 18, 2024
By Mike Fletcher

In March 2024, Cvent surveyed over 600 corporate travel decision-makers in six European countries - the UK, Germany, France, Spain Italy and the Netherlands. 

Topics covered included the rising cost of business travel and travel managersplans to mitigate this, the key challenges travel managers face when sourcing hotels for preferred hotel programmes, and the trends shaping business travel priorities for the coming years. 

The result is the 2024 Travel Managers Report. By understanding travel managers’ pain points and preferences hoteliers can improve relationships and offer a more empathetic service. So let’s look at the key findings.

Key finding 1: 

Continued cost increases impact travel managers’ requested rate preferences from hotels

  • 62% of travel managers expect business travel costs in 2024 to be higher, than in 2023.
  • Costs and rates prevent 40% of travel managers from re-accepting hotels for their corporate travel programmes. 
  • This is impacting the way corporate travel managers source hotels. When asked how their approach has primarily changed in the last five years, over a quarter (27%) said they look for a flexible rate strategy. 
  • 55% of those who think negotiating has become more difficult in the last five years say, it’s because hotels are not as flexible in their pricing models.
  • Its no wonder that 81% say its important to book negotiated accommodation rates via a Global Distribution System for corporate travel programmes. 


💡 Top Tip: Help travel managers devise a rate strategy for their specific goals and objectives by offering static and dynamic pricing. Use business intelligence tools to understand your market position better and manage rates at scale, ensuring they are accurate and available across all your hotels.

Key finding 2: 

Sustainability, DE&I and wellness continue to be a priority

  • Travel managers take sustainability seriously. 29% say information about sustainability initiatives influences their decision to submit an RFP, which rises to 39% of travel managers in France. 
  • 32% say an increased emphasis on sustainability will shape their travel priorities in 2024 and 2025. This is especially likely to be the case for travel managers in Spain (43%) and France (37%). 
  • 23% say an increased focus on ‘bleisure’ will shape their 2024 and 2025 priorities, which rises to 30% of travel managers in Germany. 
  • 23% say an added focus on wellness will shape their 2024 and 2025 priorities. Some 35% of travel managers in Italy say this is the case. 

💡 Top Tip: Highlight your hotel’s sustainability practices, wellness offerings, and commitment to DE&I in your transient marketplace profiles to save time.

Key finding 3: 

Travel managers rely on technology more to deal with the complexities of sourcing hotels

  • 24% of travel managers say theyve spent more time using technology to research hotels over the last five years. This is most likely to be the case for travel managers in the UK (30%). 
  • 45% of travel managers say negotiating with hotels has become more difficult in the last five years. 
  • However, 33% say they have been negotiating prices more often with hotels in the last five years, which rises to 51% of travel managers in Italy. 
  • 33% say negotiating is the most difficult stage of the sourcing and RFP process, with travel managers in France (43%) being especially likely to say they are struggling with this. 
  • Meanwhile, 32% say that comparing proposals is the most difficult stage of the process, and this number rises to 42% of travel managers in France. 

💡 Top Tip: Set pre-defined rate plans, establish negotiated rate parameters, and better manage negotiations using transient marketplace platforms.

Key finding 4: 

Travel managers pull double duty as meetings influence corporate travel

  • 88% of travel managers source hotels and venues for their meetings and events programme, in addition to sourcing hotels and venues for employee travel, which rises to 96% of travel managers in Spain. 
  • 66% of European travel managers also source hotels and venues for conferences. This is the case for 80% of travel managers in the UK. 
  • 31% say they plan to reduce costs by coinciding business travel with meetings and events. 
  • 24% say meeting space within hotels influences their decision to submit an RFP to a hotel. 

💡 Top Tip: When building profiles on venue sourcing platforms, include up-to-date meeting and event space information, such as room specs, images, reviews, contact information, and amenities as it will likely influence travel managersdecisions to submit an RFP. 

Key finding 5: 

To better understand if a hotel meets their needs, travel managers appreciate a content-first approach

  • 31% of travel managers say understanding how a hotel will meet their programme needs is the most difficult sourcing stage, which rises to 38% of travel managers in Italy. 
  • 31% say they struggle the most with researching hotel specs, capabilities and amenities. 

Key finding 6: 

Travel managers are mostly optimistic. They’re increasing staff to meet higher travel volume

  • 83% of travel managers feel positive about the current state of business travel. This is most likely the case for travel managers in Spain (91%) and the Netherlands (91%).
  • 69% expect travel volume to increase compared to 2023. This rises to 76% of Gen Z and Millennials and is also higher among travel managers in Spain (76%).
  • 21% believe their organisation is understaffed. So, its unsurprising that 75% say their organisation will hire employees in new roles dedicated to managing corporate travel in the next three years, which rises to 84% of Gen Z and Millennial travel managers. 

Key finding 7: 

Western Europe dominates hotel sourcing, while North America emerges as a prominent choice beyond European borders. 

  • Western Europe is travel managerstop choice for hotel sourcing, with 74% indicating that they will source hotels in this region for their travel programmes in 2024. 
  • France (75%) and Germany (74%) are the most popular countries for hotel sourcing among travel managers planning programmes in Western Europe. 
  • 43% of travel managers are sourcing hotels in Southern Europe, with Italy (72%) proving to be the most popular destination in the region. Meanwhile, 43% of the respondents are searching for hotels in Eastern Europe and are most likely to be sourcing in Poland (67%). 
  • The UK is the preferred destination for hotel sourcing in Northern Europe/Scandinavia, as chosen by 71% of travel managers who are sourcing from the region. 
  • 43% of travel managers are sourcing in North America, while just 22% are sourcing from Asia-Pacific, 22% are looking for hotels in the Middle East and Africa, and 20% are sourcing from Latin America. 

A golden opportunity

Although business travel budgets are rising and 83% of travel managers feel positive about business travel activity, hoteliers can't get complacent. This is your opportunity to communicate carbon-conscious credentials, implement dynamic pricing, engage with technology and improve the RFP process so that bookers understand how your property will meet their programme needs. 

To understand more about what travel managers look for in hotels, download our European edition of the 2024 Travel Managers Report, Cvent’s annual corporate travel pulse-check. 


 

Mike Fletcher

Mike Fletcher

Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for almost 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.

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