For CFOs, whose presence and role at events have changed over recent years, business travel has become an integral part of connecting with stakeholders, building relationships, and collaborating with far-flung teams.
CFOs looking to expand travel budgets in 2024 for themselves and their teams should be aware of changing industry dynamics. For example, according to new expense travel and corporate card provider Navan's state of corporate travel report, 81% of business travelers want their companies to give them a financial kickback if they save the company money — a policy only 67% of companies have in place.
2024 Travel Plans
According to the data provided by Navan (formerly TripActions), a majority of travelers expect to continue to hit the road in some capacity over the next 12 months. More than a third (34%) of travelers said they expect to travel between three and five times in 2024, while over a quarter (27%) plan on traveling between six and 10 times.
However, executives are not just traveling for conferences. Over three quarters (77%) said they were excited about having regular offsite in-person connections with their coworkers. That figure has risen 7% in each of the last two years, according to Navan’s findings, suggesting that employees are more willing to connect and work in person as the pandemic falls further into the past.
Then there's bleisure — the idea of mixing personal and professional travel into one trip. While more than 68% of travel and finance managers continue to pay some or all of their employee's personal expenses while traveling for bleisure, there are questions about what a company should or should not cover.
While 55% of travelers told surveyors their company already provides some stipend for their personal time while traveling, many organizations have yet to address issues such as company travel restrictions during peak times, costs associated with travel changes, and injury liability, according to Navan.
Regarding cost optimization and how expenses are tracked and paid out, CFOs may see more companies offering artificial intelligence as a way to manage travel expenses in a less labor-intensive fashion. Nearly 60% of travelers say they trust AI to handle "straightforward" tasks related to business travel, but only 30% of travelers said they'd trust AI in nearly every aspect of their travel, from flight changes to rental car bookings to managing their loyalty programs and frequent flier accounts.
While technology that is personalized and efficient would benefit travelers, the data suggests that those who frequently travel for work want to remain in control of the majority of their travel plans.
In October 2023, Navan and Skift surveyed 689 corporate travel and finance managers and 778 business travelers. Respondents were primarily based in the U.S., UK, France, and Germany.