Canadian corporate travel spend down by 2.6% for 2016

Canadian corporate travel spend down by 2.6% for 2016

TORONTO — The watchword for corporate travel in 2016? Cautious. While an uptick in business travel spending is reflected by a slight majority of companies (39%) responding to the ninth annual benchmarking survey conducted by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and The Conference Board of Canada, a near equal number of firms (34%) is citing travel program cutbacks.

The survey polled input from 57 respondents directing a combined travel volume in excess of $700 million.

“The collapse of oil prices and a weak Canadian dollar are regarded by 68% of respondents as having a negative impact on business travel,” says Monica Hailstone, ACTE’s Canada-based regional director for the Americas.

Even with more than a quarter of responding companies (27%) indicating “no change” in their budgets, the overall Canadian business travel spend for 2016 is predicted to decrease by 2.6%, she added.

Other causes cited for decreases in travel spending include budget restrictions and leadership mandate (63%), the use of travel alternatives (47%), and fewer travellers (37%). This last statistic represents thousands of oil industry employees who have been furloughed or put on restricted travel.

Yet some reductions in travel spending reflect greater efficiencies in accomplishing the corporate objective. These are improved policy compliance, savings based on new technologies (online booking tools and expense management systems), and a decrease in trip duration, said Hailstone.

The survey also delved into significant social changes. A growing number of companies are now accommodating the shared economy, she noted. Ground transportation alternatives are reimbursed by 50% of responding companies. Car sharing is supported by 38%, and shared accommodation services are allowed by 21%. This level of acceptance marks a dramatic change from just a few years ago. Still 41% of respondents do not see any immediate policy compliance changes regarding mobile technology nor the shared economy.