The manufacturing sector relies on business travel programs to place skilled professionals at project locations where they are needed most. Not only do travelers need to arrive on time, but they also need to stay close to their project site to maximize productivity.
Research from the Global Business Travel Association indicates that in 2019 hotel prices will go up by 3.7 percent and airfares will rise by 2.6 percent. Manufacturers who want to maintain an affordable cost structure will need to keep an eye on travel trends and identify opportunities for optimizing the financial performance of their program without sacrificing traveler satisfaction.
Personalization and project-based travel
According to a report from GBTA, the manufacturing industry spends approximately $10 billion annually on project-based travel. In general, project-based travel is significantly more costly than the alternative. Employees who travel for projects spend an average of $679 per project-based trip, compared to $533 for other types of business trips. In fact, people who travel for projects spend 142 percent more on lodging alone. Hotel location is likely what drives this increased cost. Project-based travelers have to stay close to their destination, and, according to the report, prefer to eat breakfast at the hotel, which can further increase costs.
Depending on the scale of the project, travelers from the manufacturing sector often spend several days or weeks on site. Amenities, therefore, are often more important as they work away from the comforts of the office and home. A program that gives travelers the flexibility to upgrade to a more comfortable room or obtain creative perks can keep traveler satisfaction high.
Transparency and international duty of care
Many business travelers from the manufacturing sector visit locations with limited connectivity. It's one thing to visit an office in Shanghai with high-speed internet and reliable local infrastructure, but it's another thing entirely to visit a factory in rural Henan, where data service isn't always available.
When travelers visit remote locations, sometimes they can't rely on technology, such as mobile apps, that is typically used to improve duty of care. Travel managers may need to rely on policy-based solutions, such as travel itineraries and email check-ins to determine traveler location. For instance, if a traveler is scheduled to check in to his or her hotel at a certain time, a travel manager at the home office can send an email to check that the employee has arrived, and, if not, check with the airline to ensure he or she didn't miss a flight.
Cost control and management
With airfare and hotel costs on the rise, travel program stakeholders will need to look for opportunities to improve their negotiating power with suppliers. Doing so can be a challenge if the organization lacks volume in certain regions. Partnering with a travel management company can give manufacturers access to resources such as analytics and credit management solutions that will allow them to reduce their cost structures or better utilize existing budgets to improve their programs.
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