29 Jan 19

Companies looking to cut business travel by 25% within 5 years

Major companies are looking to achieve significant reductions in business travel, according to a new report, The British Business and Mobility Study.

Sewells Research & Insight questioned 1,000 business leaders in the UK and found that two-thirds have set targets to reduce their travel for internal meetings, and a similar proportion have targets to cut client visits.

The report said the trend is being driven by pressure on corporate carbon footprints, a shortage of office space and parking bays, greater demands from employees for more flexible working practices, as well as the ever-present desire to cut costs.

Key findings included the fact that 48% of extra-large fleets (250+ cars) and 56% of large fleets (101- 250 cars) believe a 25% reduction in business travel is achievable within five years.

Ian Richardson, general manager, Sewells Research & Insight, said, “Businesses and their staff are looking for ways to work flexibly and remotely, to cut down on time lost while commuting, and to reduce demand on workplace parking spaces. The emphasis on employees sharing lifts both to work and to visit suppliers and clients is a natural, if accidental, stepping stone towards 
a future of shared travel via ride hailing, car sharing, on-demand bus services and public transport.”

Technology replaces travel

New technology has dramatically improved desk and home-based communication, challenging the need for many journeys.

Professional services firm PWC said, “We've worked to reduce unnecessary journeys, encouraging both internal and client-facing teams to make better use of technology-based alternatives that support collaborative working from different locations.”

Software-based solutions such as Slack and video conferencing system Zoom mean employers no longer need to invest in dedicated videoconferencing rooms to hold an online meeting.

Paul Tilstone, managing partner of travel management specialist Festive Road, said there was a constant if not accelerated desire among corporates to reduce their business travel, supported by a focus on environmental sustainability, the mental health and wellbeing implications for staff who have to travel frequently for business, and “the greater use of data to analyse the return on investment from travel in order to determine whether it contributes to topline revenue.”

The British Business and Mobility Study by Sewells Research & Insight is out now.

Authored by: Jonathan Manning