Eight emerging ground transportation priorities shaping business travel in 2022 and beyond
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Alongside is a modal shift to low-emission transport options and car use as a preferred mode of business travel, prompted by Covid when air travel was suspended.
David McNeill, AVP Global Corporate Sales EMEA, explained that rental businesses like Enterprise Rent-A-Car and National Car Rental are responding to this shift with innovation.
“Customers see rental as an opportunity to guide employees towards better travel choices and to think twice before jumping into their own car and recharging mileage,” he said.
“Our consultancy explores how rental can address future requirements around net zero carbon, workforce wellbeing and responsible business. We’re also extending branch networks to deliver rental in new locations closer to where people live and work virtually, with automated rental facilitates for 24/7 access to vehicles.”
Siemens UK’s new automated rental programme is an example of how employees can access mobility 24/7 through membership of Enterprise Car Club.
This round-the-clock service means all of Siemens UK’s 15,000 employees can access a network of 1,400+ on-street low- and zero-emission vehicles in 200 towns, cities and communities across the UK.
These work alongside dedicated car club vehicles already located on-site at five Siemens UK offices, plus support from branch-based rental options for employees with more long-term mobility needs.
Wayne Warburton, Head of Mobility Services at Siemens UK, said, “The opportunity to extend car club access across the whole organisation, alongside the dedicated vehicle programme, makes sense because of Enterprise’s very regionalised network. Enterprise’s car club and branch network is located in many smaller communities and even rural areas around the UK, not just in city centres.”
McNeill added, “A ‘usership’ model allows employees to access the mobility they need while controlling capital cost. On-demand vehicles enable businesses to re-imagine how employees can shift to more sustainable patterns of behaviour, including active travel and zero-emission motoring.”
More businesses now see the ‘grey fleet’ of employees using their own personal cars for work as a challenge that increases cost and risk, because they only see the financial impact of business motoring once mileage is reclaimed.
“It’s an issue when employees drive older, higher-emission, poorly maintained cars over which the business has little or no control – and rental can be a remedy,” McNeill explained.”
Booking and compliance platforms – such as Enterprise Travel Direct (ETD) – enable detailed data capture on the scale and scope of business travel, which informs rental programmes that keep employees moving efficiently.
Using previous information on employee preferences may lead to costly mistakes if an employee’s main place of work has changed. Establishing lines of communication to agree travel requirements and preferences – which may differ from country to country, especially post-Covid – will streamline discretionary travel where this is still an option.
“We’re advising customers to keep the conversation open to help us ensure continuity of service as demand for vehicles remains high,” McNeill said. “We can then plan a longer-term solution that can even reduce the number of cars required and days rented.”
It may make sense to keep some vehicles for longer, to introduce one or more dedicated on-site units as a car club, or to consider installing car club technology in an existing owned fleet to optimise pool car usage. Forecasting future requirements and discussing them directly with the supplier will ensure employees get the vehicles they need.
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Many businesses and individuals are rethinking vehicle access and looking at alternative models better suited to a time of fast-moving economic change and disruptive innovation.
Enterprise & National often starts with basic planning, reviewing the travel policy and often adding new transport options that were previously more relevant for consumer travel.
“We can help customers base travel decisions on clear analysis of usage to support employees while also achieving lower emissions and costs,” explained McNeill.
Often this means creating a travel hierarchy to match travel requirements. It will ensure employees have access to different modes of transport in a way that supports all business goals.
Multi-modal travel options where rental cars, e-bikes and e-scooters are available for hire at travel hubs are creating new solutions for business travel. They also offer the potential for active travel, which has been shown to promote health and wellbeing.
As decarbonisation remains at the top of the business agenda, employee travel is being closely examined as an early target for reducing emissions.
A shift to low- and zero-emission travel needs to provide sufficient flexibility to ensure employees feel supported and can pick the right mode of transport for each trip.
“The key is to know which trips can switch to EVs and which are better with a petrol or diesel engine,” said McNeill. “Again, it’s about analysis. Using data to guide decisions on which vehicle to use makes it easier for employees to align with company decarbonisation goals, especially for employees switching out of grey fleet.”
Decarbonisation needs to include all employee travel. That includes longer domestic or international journeys, the commute, the grey fleet and pool car management.
The obvious solution is electric vehicles, but dependent on vehicle usage and the miles driven, the public charging infrastructure needs to be considered.
Travel buyers will also need to consider what types of journeys suit adoption of EVs. Building this into a travel hierarchy will help employees to select the right mode for each trip.
“Discretionary business travel is still significant in many organisations,” said David McNeill. “Sometimes this is cultural to enable employees to choose the options that best suit them and take control.
“Given restricted vehicle availability, this needs to be balanced with a greater overview of business travel – and a focus on business-critical journeys so they prioritise vehicles for those trips.”
Reviewing the travel policy is a priority to align it with business priorities post-Covid and beyond.
Technology platforms such as ETD can then help to guide employees towards the best travel choices and eliminate non-essential trips.
This means a 100% focus on business-critical travel in safe, low-carbon transport, ensuring the corporate travel policy is enforceable and actionable to all employees.
“The scope of ‘business-critical’ journeys is evolving as business travel ramps up again,” McNeill explained. “We are seeing a resurgence of the ‘road warrior’ where many jobs still require regular business trips, sometimes internationally. Talent shortages means contractors are often used to plug holes in the workforce, and they also require mobility.”
Aligning with net zero targets, businesses want help to understand when a journey is business-critical and when it can be consolidated with other journeys – or replaced with video conferencing.
“The central question is how we equip regular travellers with safe, sustainable travel options efficiently, and if it sometimes makes sense to consider long-term rental, especially for employees awaiting a new company car,” McNeill concluded.
With more employees able to work remotely, there is an emerging trend to combine working with holidays. Some employees are adding holiday to the beginning or end of a business trip, while others are working intermittently as part of an extended stay abroad that could span several weeks, with business travel interspersed.
This blurring has an impact on travel policies as car hire may be split between business and leisure use.
“Again, clear data on what needs to be managed is key,” David McNeill explained. “Employees that need ad hoc mobility as part of a holiday need to understand their tax liability when their company provides them with a vehicle that they also use for leisure travel.”
Reviewing the travel policy to outline clear options for travel and the priorities for selecting a particular transport mode will make it easier for employees to make the best choices for their circumstances and ensure businesses remain compliant.
Diversity, equity and inclusion have an impact on mobility choices. Gender is an example where one mode of transport may be preferred for reasons of safety, especially in certain geographies or if there is travel late at night.
Access to low-cost EV charging can be limited in certain areas and can be a socio-economic issue depending on where a business is located. Travel policies should ensure all employees can access charging even if they live in remote areas without adequate infrastructure or in multi-tenanted buildings without off-street parking in urban areas.
Mandating transport choices needs to be viewed through a diversity lens to ensure employee wellbeing.
To learn more about how Enterprise and National can help you adapt to these emerging trends to solve your mobility challenges, visit enterprise.co.uk/business.
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