22 November 2007 | Antony Barton
Three-quarters of travel buyers now promote transport choices to their staff based on efficient use of time, rather than just cost.
The finding comes from a survey of 165 UK travel managers and procurement professionals, conducted by the Institute of Travel Management (ITM).
Paul Tilstone, executive director of ITM, told Supplymanagement.com it is not unusual for low cost to be of less importance to travel buyers: "Cutting costs is just one aspect in the wider scheme of managing travel programmes, which also needs to take into account productivity and employees' need to connect with Blackberries, PDAs and laptops while on the move."
He says a focus on saving time means 72 per cent of travel buyers encourage travellers to take direct flights, at a higher cost than taking connecting flights.
He suggests travel buyers break up journeys and pay for staff to spend time working in airport lounges: "The cost of lounge access is modest, and travellers can work in peace. However, less than 7 per cent of British companies purchase lounge access for their travellers when it is not included through class of travel or executive club status."
Colin Goldney, managing director of ITM's research partner Argate Consulting, agreed buyers must recognise that travel time is an ideal opportunity for staff to complete work, and not just look to save money.
In a statement, he said: "The productivity value of lounges, limo drives, express check-ins and the ability to shield the contents on your laptop screen from your neighbour is often overlooked in procurement policies that demand the lowest logical fare."