Around 20% of corporations are willing to grant greater freedom to employees when organising their travel, a study has found.

Technology and consultancy service ZS surveyed over 200 travel managers in the US, 18 of which are in the top 100 spending companies in corporate travel, to found out their attitudes to travel policy and booking practices.

The idea behind the research is that many companies are mulling over whether to relax their existing strategy and adopt a more “Managed Travel 2.0″-esque stance, giving employees the freedom to book travel through any channel as long as it meets certain criteria such as preferred suppliers and budget.

The trend is somewhat controversial (to some) as it does away with existing policies around always booking through specific distribution channels or via corporate travel agencies.

ZS found, according to its survey, some one in five companies is “likely and willing” to relax corporate travel policy in its current guise.

Glenn Hollister, principal and leader of the travel and transportation practice at ZS, says:

“Corporate travel managers must balance how they fulfill financial objectives with how they account for soft costs borne by the employee.

“As different types of booking technologies advance and consumers adapt swiftly, many have realized that a superior user experience may encourage better compliance and generate greater business value from their travel programs.”

Small moves, small moves, initially… And it is, according to ZS, as much a cultural shift, too.

The corporates which are relaxing their rules are starting with elements such as allowing travellers to spend extra money themselves on priority boarding, extra legroom and in-flight wifi, whilst others will grant an additional night in a hotel if workers are on extended business trips or long haul flights.

One of the benefits of giving control to employees over their travel itineraries is that, over time, employee productivity and health will also improve.

Hollister adds:

“Forward-thinking suppliers and companies are preparing for Managed Travel 2.0. When corporate travel managers enable multiple booking paths that align with their program objectives, they should see a win-win situation that satisfies both the company and traveler.”

Here is an infographic with further details:

ZS managed travel

NB: Business traveller pool image via Shutterstock.

Original author: Kevin May