BCD’s travel buyer survey reveals shifting priorities in corporate travel policies  

UTRECHT, The Netherlands, June 12, 2024 – Leading global travel management company BCD Travel’s recent study explores modern corporate travel policies and changes happening due to shifting priorities and trends. The results are based on an online survey from April 2024 of more than 200 travel buyers worldwide. The top three travel program priorities include duty of care, policy compliance and cost control. All three ranked highly in 2023 and have since gained importance. However, the ratings of other priorities went slightly down. Traveler satisfaction dropped in importance as one of the top priorities from 2021 to 2023 to fourth in 2024. Similarly, payment and expense were assessed lower than a year ago.

A travel policy is a critical factor in a successful travel program. It’s encouraging that many corporates agree as most travel buyers reported that their company has a dedicated travel policy. Differences arise in how policies are defined. Seven in 10 say their travel policy aligns with their company goals and is supported by leadership. Six in 10 define it as cost-focused and three in 10 describe it as traveler-centric. Only 15% of travel buyers reported that the policy is based on KPIs and traveler feedback.

What’s covered under travel policies?

A travel policy is a company’s guide for managing business travel. It helps control travel costs and outlines the guidelines employees must follow when planning trips for the company. Topics covered by travel policies range from trip purpose to traveler wellbeing to bleisure travel. According to the survey, the two most commonly covered themes include trip purpose (e.g. client meetings vs. internal meetings) and pre-trip approvals. While sustainability is growing in importance in the industry, less than half said sustainable travel is included in their policy. This is in line with a BCD survey from July 2023 that found only 45% of companies have targets for sustainable business travel. Bleisure travel, remote work, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) are covered/included least often.

Many companies have dedicated travel policies for senior employees, specific business units, and frequent travelers. Only 12% have written policies for travelers with accessibility needs or neurodivergent travelers. Less than one in 10 have policies addressing employees with special needs (e.g. nursing mothers), LGBTQ+ travelers, gender, religion, or age.


The biggest challenge for buyers when updating the policy is educating travelers. This is followed by managing policy exceptions, managing policy across different regions, and controlling policy compliance.

“Traveling for work can be stressful. You want your employees to be able to access all the resources they need to make the process as simple and efficient as possible – and that’s why regular policy communication is so important,” said Teri Miller, BCD’s executive vice president of the Global Client Team. “Technology has streamlined traveler communications, creating ways for companies to easily provide relevant, timely information that can keep travelers safe. For example, clients use our TripSource® platform to quickly reach travelers at different times through the planning and trip cycle.”

BCD and its consulting division Advito can provide advice and guidance on writing policies and engaging with travelers.

  • Communicate with travelers before, during and after trips. TripSource Messaging ensures travelers stay informed and engaged with risk alerts, flight alerts, emergency response notifications, policy information and trip reminders.

Policy communication & enforcement

According to respondents, the most common way to communicate travel policy updates is through the company intranet, followed by direct mailing. A third share updates in the online booking tool (OBT) or during employee training. BCD suggests introducing the travel policy during employee onboarding as it’s mutually beneficial. It builds transparency, helps new hires feel informed, and fosters a culture of preparedness and responsibility.

While more than half of travel buyers view their travel policy as very or extremely effective, only a third are as confident in their policy communication. Almost half rate their policy communication as moderately effective, reflecting the common challenge of educating travelers about the policy.

The most frequently used ways of enforcing travel policies include:

  • Highlighting policy-compliant travel options in the OBT
  • Performing an audit of travel expenses
  • Regularly communicating travel policy changes via multiple channels

“We know from experience that one of the most effective ways to communicate with travelers and influence their behavior is to put relevant messaging directly in the booking path. It not only results in increased compliance, but also leads to a more personalized and dynamic shopping experience for the traveler,” said Miller. “Advito’s Engage team uses merchandising in our clients’ OBTs to drive policy education when and where it matters the most – right when they are making a purchase decision.”

Cost-control policies

More than half of travel buyers report having reduced their travel budget in the past few years. At the same time, almost all introduced certain cost-control measures. The most popular measures are directed at reducing travel volume: encouraging online meetings, decreasing non-essential travel, encouraging fewer but longer trips, and limiting the number of employees on one trip. Other measures include using tools to lower the cost of a trip (e.g. price assurance), strict expense control, booking lower classes of air travel, and encouraging the use of public transportation instead of taxis.

Travel policy updates

In addition to travel management, various stakeholders are involved in creating and updating travel policies including finance, HR, procurement, security and the executive board. Most respondents updated their travel policy within the past year.

Companies should update their travel policies regularly to address the changing needs of travelers and the industry. A strong travel policy provides a consistent, safe, managed and cost-controlled framework that leads to wise travel decisions.

Trends shaping policy

Almost two-thirds of travel buyers expect sustainability (along with safety and security) to have the strongest impact on corporate travel policies in the upcoming years. Other trends of influence are technology, NDC, traveler wellbeing and new traveler needs. Meanwhile, DE&I is at the bottom of the list along with bleisure. Both are relevant but are not expected to considerably change travel policies.

Although traveler wellbeing has dropped slightly in importance, companies should be aware that business travel can be exhausting and influence travelers’ wellbeing and happiness. In today’s struggle for talent, accommodating travelers’ wellbeing can have a positive impact on employee retention. BCD helps clients adapt their travel policies, communicate with travelers, and provide the right traveler tools, which ultimately benefit traveler wellbeing.

To view the travel buyer survey report, click here.

About BCD Travel

BCD Travel helps companies travel smart and achieve more. We drive program adoption, cost savings and talent retention through digital experiences that simplify business travel. Our 15,000+ dedicated team members service clients in 170+ countries as we shape a sustainable future for business travel. BCD’s leading meetings and events management and global consultancy services complete our comprehensive suite of solutions for all aspects of corporate travel. In 2023, BCD achieved US$20.3 billion in sales. For more information, visit www.bcdtravel.com.