Towards Smart Business Travel

Roby, Helen (2010). Towards Smart Business Travel. The Open University (for Transport for London), Milton Keynes, UK.


Business travel is an area that Government policy has left largely untouched, but in London with the percentage of business trips for an average weekday at 8% in 2007/08 (Transport for London, 2009, table 9.3, pp 137) and the average distance travelled accounting for 15% of all the distances travelled (Transport for London, 2009, table 9.7, pp 148), they account for an important proportion of daily journeys. However, this research has shown more notably, particularly for businesses that do a significant amount of business travel, there is an opportunity for TfL to engage with businesses in a new and effective way at a number of levels. These include:

• The strategic level, to outline TfLs strategy for the network and to gain feedback on these plans

• The detail level including journey planning information with carbon emissions and cost, and corporate ticketing opportunities.

• Managing the commute on a voluntary basis as part of wider Corporate Responsibility programmes.

What became clear in this research was that many businesses wanted to engage with TfL, but found it hard to find a point of contact. They also wanted to engage in different ways from the current engagement programme of workplace travel plans and the planning process.

The structure of the report is to review the existing literature covering both academic and practitioner work, but focussing on the London data where available. The paper will then go on to report the individual perspective from the findings of a survey of business travellers in London. This survey outlines the purpose of business journeys into London, the alternatives to a physical journey and their barriers to use. The final part of the report will explore the business perspective of business travel using data drawn from a series of face-to-face interviews with businesses and stakeholders. This section will look first at the support and engagement issues raised by the companies participating and then to go on to develop a picture of the business travel area within organisations. The report then covers the drivers and barriers to developing a sustainable business travel policy and the practices and methods of communication to support the policy, including the use of virtual meeting technologies. It then concludes by looking at how business travels links into the commute and the attitude of business to electric vehicles. Finally, the report draws together recommendations for TfL about alternative ways to engage with businesses.

Details of the methodology used to generate this report are given in the appendix. In brief, it involved:

• Completion of 150 on-line surveys by business travellers, identified through the National Business Travel Network (NBTN), TfLs clients, Open University staff across the regions and Open University students across a range of courses.

• Meetings with five stakeholder organisations to identify potential case studies, and

• Meetings with eight case study businesses, who were identified by stakeholders as being involved in managing business travel in a more sustainable way.

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