Is Frustrating Corporate Travel Leading to Employee Turnover?

Is Frustrating Corporate Travel Leading to Employee Turnover?

When you think about the negative consequences of corporate travel, you probably first think of the cost. That makes sense — travel is typically a company’s second biggest expense, trailing only payroll, and it’s getting more expensive every year

After that, you may think of how managing all that corporate travel is slowing your company down. Again, makes sense: managing bookings, travel disruptions, and reporting is not always a simple task.

But there’s probably one negative effect of corporate travel that rarely comes to mind: dissatisfied employees.

But it should. Corporate travel takes a serious toll on many employees, and if it’s not properly managed and supported, it can be one of the most reliable ways to frustrate, alienate, and eventually lose some of the best members of your team.

How bad is it? When we surveyed more than 1,300 frequent corporate travelers and travel managers, the frustrations around corporate travel were heard loud and clear: nearly half said that their annoyances with travel management made them more likely to look for a new job.

In this post, we’ll dig into the data about exactly what frustrates corporate travel as well as look at some ways for companies to minimize these common frustrations.

How sub-par travel management leads to employee turnover

The two biggest issues for business travelers are inefficiencies and frustrations related to travel management. The data shows that:

  • 59% of business travelers say inefficiencies related to travel management make them less happy in their role
  • 44% of business travelers say frustrations with business travel management make them more likely to look for other jobs

Employees want to feel like they are making an impact with the work they do. But when they are expected to book their own travel using consumer booking sites (which included the majority of our sample), these employees waste an average of 12 hours per trip on administrative travel tasks like researching, booking, adjusting, canceling, and expense reporting. If they average 9 trips per year, your employees are dedicating 108 hours per year to travel booking. Of the frequent business travelers we surveyed that are responsible for booking their own travel through consumer booking sites, over half said that this process negatively impacts their job productivity.

Of course this level of inefficiency makes them unhappy -- whenever a trip comes around, their core responsibilities (that they were hired to do, don’t forget) become second to booking and managing their own travel.

When booking through a middle man, business travelers still dedicate an average of 9 hours per trip communicating with the travel booker, in addition to adjusting, canceling and expense reporting. This is a huge chunk of time wasted, with the added frustration of back and forth messaging with the travel booker. And this repeated frustration is enough to drive turnover: nearly half of our surveyed business travelers would look for a new job.

Ready for some irony? The source of frustration driving frequent travelers toward looking for other job opportunities is actually the intended solution to fix the travel management problem. Pushing away frustrated employees is the pitfall of not listening to their needs and implementing the necessary tools to satisfy them.

What are the needs of frequent business travelers? Here are the top five features our sample indicated would improve traveler satisfaction:

  1. Easy to understand guidelines for booking travel that meets company policies
  2. Access to 24/7 support before, during and after trips
  3. One consolidated place where all travel documents and loyalty numbers can easily be found and accessed on the go
  4. More flight and airline options for flexibility
  5. More/better hotel options


What about travel managers?

Employees who manage travel require attention too, in order to keep the good ones on your team. And apparently their needs aren’t being listened to either.

  • 63% of travel managers say lack of adequate tools negatively impacts their job satisfaction
  • 53% of travel managers say lack of adequate tools makes them more likely to look for other jobs

Needless to say, employees that don’t feel empowered to do the job they were hired to do (and are probably really good at) will become frustrated, unproductive, and itching to leave. Most travel management systems lack tools essential to streamlining the process. And most travel arrangers can tell you exactly what these tools are.

So how should you keep your best travel managers around? Ask them what they need to feel productive and empowered to do their job well. Of the travel managers we surveyed, there were five top features they indicated would improve travel manager satisfaction:

  1. The ability to save info on travelers’ preferences for faster/easier booking in the future
  2. Easy access to digital receipts
  3. Auto generation of easy to share itineraries
  4. Letting travelers manage their own booking based on pre-set guidelines
  5. Access to fast 24/7 support

To keep your best travel managers loyal, figure out how to implement these features into your travel management system. Or upgrade your system to a product that offers all five. Either way, the data is clear that poorly managed travel is detrimental to satisfaction, and can lead to employee turnover. If you want to keep your best talent around, the time to upgrade your travel management system is now.

Read the full Cost of Doing Business Travel report.


About the Author: Kathleen Burns
Kathleen Burns was a Content Marketing Associate at from 2019-20.