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| 2 minutes read

Positivity versus potential challenges in the mobility world

We try to stay alert with what we are hearing from the travel industry, particularly on the business travel side of things as there is a lot of overlap with what our talent mobility world is experiencing. In a recent joint effort report from GBTA and Spotnana, U.S.-based corporate travel buyers shared that they expect their company’s business travel to not only completely recover in 2023 but surpass previous (pre-pandemic) highs!

A majority of U.S. corporate travel buyers expect their company’s business travel to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. Despite looming economic concerns, only one in five travel managers say their companies have begun to limit business travel. Since the onset of the pandemic, demands on travel managers’ time have grown, including addressing traveler needs, conducting data analysis, and the increasing challenge to balance cost savings with the business traveler experience.

The tail end of that last sentence above mirrors what we found in our recent 2023 Global Mobility Trends Survey. Mobility leaders said they would be looking hard to find efficiencies in their mobility processes, along with formulating policies that balance their varying needs, and improving the employee experience. 

There are numerous challenges that mobility programs face right now. With ongoing inflation persisting and the possibility of a recession looming, budgeting concerns have elevated. In the GBTA/Spotnana survey, nearly half of business travel managers indicated that inflation is their greatest challenge this year. In our own survey, we found that 96% of global mobility managers expressed some level of concern about the U.S. and global economy, with most people (61%) feeling moderately concerned. 

Challenging environments for talent attraction and retention are also keeping employee experience on the radar. With continued mortgage rate increases and rent levels near or above all time highs, mobility teams are concerned about employees being reluctant to relocate or take an assignment. Companies are reconsidering the talent they are targeting and exploring how relocation and assignments can support these efforts. Many are looking at executive level programs or bumping up their new hire programs. They are reconsidering how to use developmental rotational assignments and how to better support interns. We've heard comments that balanced solutions are being prioritized - solutions that meet the company's needs while also addressing employee needs. In this current environment, finding that balance takes some creative thinking and good use of technology.

Ultimately, it seems that despite lots of increased volatility (including new banking fears), travel and mobility leaders are more optimistic (and less pessimistic) with their outlook for 2023 than they were coming into 2022. Unlike corporate travel managers, few mobility leaders are suggesting that they will reach new highs in mobility activity this year. However, the majority are expecting the same or greater activity than they had in 2022, with a particular uptick on cross-border activity. The mobility industry is poised to tackle the challenges of 2023 with greater optimism but with a number of challenges that will need to be prioritized.

Corporate travel is in a moment of transition, with mounting inflation challenging the return to travel in the post-COVID world. How are travel managers thriving in 2023 despite the numerous complexities they face? Spotnana partnered with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) to delve into how travel managers are working toward success in 2023. GBTA polled 151 U.S.-based travel managers on their biggest concerns for 2023, how their programs are evolving this year, and the pain points that they need to address. Here are the top three trends from the report’s findings. You can download the full report here.


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