Expedia’s corporate travel unit Egencia Travel recently announced the introduction of a new tool that enables travellers to compare rail alternatives to flights before purchase.

The travel management company’s (TMC) innovative new tool will be a gamechanger in the business travel landscape by meeting the modern-day demands of corporate travel programs, where cost and sustainability are key considerations. Therefore, we will see increased demand for these types of tools, with more TMC’s implementing this technology in the future.

The new tool by Egencia meets the demand for low-cost and sustainable travel

Demand for more sustainable offerings is high, with organisations under pressure to ensure travel management programmes are more environmentally friendly. Business travel (particularly air transport) has been identified as one of the highest contributors to CO₂ emissions for numerous organisations across a range of different sectors. Therefore, many need to adapt their travel management programmes by cutting down on air travel and booking greener solutions such as rail instead. Egencia’s air vs rail comparison tool can meet this need, particularly for domestic trips. However, cross-border travel can also become more sustainable, with the tool offering the use of intra-European rail operators such as Thalys and Eurostar, to name a few.

It is not just businesses that will look to reduce air travel. The demand from individual travellers continues to sway towards more sustainable options. According to GlobalData’s Q1 2021 consumer survey, 76% of respondents said they were ‘always,’ ‘often’ or ‘somewhat’ influenced by the environmental friendliness of a product/service, highlighting the appetite for more sustainable offerings. While many individual business travellers are not the final decision-makers for the travel options within an organisation, these travellers are likely to be more compliant if said organisation incorporates sustainable initiatives within its business travel policy. In addition, those travelling for ‘bleisure’ (business and leisure), which is a growing trend in business travel, will also consider booking rail alternatives.

Not only is the tool more sustainable for the environment, but it also protects the future of the business in question. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many organisations have had to reduce travel budgets. In a GlobalData Verdict poll*, 43% of respondents said their company’s travel budget would ‘reduce significantly’ because of the pandemic, underlining the need for low-cost travel solutions. These rail alternatives can pass on more savings to the client due to lower prices per ticket on average compared to airlines.

A travel solution that will catch on

With sustainability becoming a major trend in tourism and concerns with travel budgets still at present, there is a higher demand for low-cost and sustainable travel solutions. Subsequently, other TMC’s will face pressure from clients to offer similar solutions to the air vs rail comparison tool, resulting in more adopters of this booking mechanism. This will allow organisations and individual business travellers to make more informed choices about how they get from A to B, leading to a more sustainable future within business travel.

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By GlobalData

*GlobalData Verdict Poll on assessing change in corporate travel budgets – Closed 16th April 2021 – 347 responses