Return to office mandates linked to higher business travel costs

a key finding in new research by Uber for Business  which claims to reveal a resurgent demand for business travelThe majority of UK travel managers (89 percent) say travel is a growing business priority in 2024, anticipating increased budgets driven by return-to-office policies, inflation and ESG requirements. This is a key finding in new research by Uber for Business  which claims to reveal a resurgent demand for business travel. The research, drawing insights from over 250 corporate travel managers across the UK, sets out to explore the top business travel trends and challenges to watch in 2024. In this landscape of shifting dynamics, where emphasis on ESG requirements is intensifying, there is an increasing need for innovative travel management solutions, the firm says.

ESG reporting is becoming increasingly vital in corporate travel, as organisations seek to align travel practices with broader sustainability goals and government requirements. This shift is evident in the attitudes and practices of UK travel managers:

  • 61 percent of respondents report that rising climate concerns are leading to significant changes in their travel policies
  • 39 percent consider ESG reporting a high priority when selecting vendors or partners, insisting that all partners offer green reporting
  • 78 percent express satisfaction with the ESG reporting capabilities of their current provider

UK travel managers are gearing up to tackle a range of challenges in 2024, including:

  • 33 percent of respondents identify navigating evolving travel restrictions as a top concern
  • 31 percent highlight the need to ensure exceptional safety standards
  • 29 percent point out the importance of adapting to traveller preferences, such as combining personal trips with business travel

Financial considerations are also shaping travel management strategies:

  • 53 percent of respondents indicate that inflation and rising travel costs are expected to contribute to higher travel budgets in 2024
  • 52 percent foresee that evolving work habits, like hybrid working and return-to-office mandates, will inflate budgets
  • 51 percent predict ESG requirements for more sustainable travel will push up budgets

In response, travel managers are setting clear priorities for the year ahead, emphasising flexibility in travel choices and gathering employee feedback to respond effectively to real-time insights.


Role of tech

The poll suggests there is a clear call among UK travel managers for new technology and solutions in response to the rapidly changing travel landscape. However, the sheer variety of tools available, each claiming to optimise different travel management aspects, poses a challenge in choosing the most effective and appropriate solutions.

  • 97 percent of respondents plan to prioritise the adoption of new tech to keep pace with evolving demands
  • 44 percent describe their approach to tech adoption as proactive and rapid, actively and swiftly integrating the latest innovations
  • 79 percent agree that the abundance of tech resources can be overwhelming, underscoring the complexity and vastness of the tech landscape in the sector

The potential impact of generative AI on corporate travel is also gaining attention, highlighting significant trends and perspectives among UK travel managers:

  • 77 percent of respondents feel the influence of generative AI in their work, indicating its growing presence in the sector
  • 92 percent anticipate this impact to escalate over the next five years
  • 31 percent foresee that AI will make their job more interesting, while 26 percent believe that AI might compete with their job