Business travellers demand to pay ‘as they do when they play’

Business travellers demand to pay ‘as they do when they play’

  • Companies are responding to traveller requests for ‘bleisure’ travel, with 94 per cent now allowing employees to add leisure days to business trips
  • The ‘consumerisation’ of corporate travel is impacting payments, as 66 per cent of travel decision-makers believe the use of digital or mobile wallets will increase over the next half-decade
  • Having a payment declined for no apparent reason is a key pain point when buying business travel, with decision-makers experiencing this roughly three times a week
  • Four in ten travel buyers (43 per cent) are more concerned about their control over travel and entertainment expenses than they were 12 months ago

New research from Barclaycard has found that the use of mobile wallets and invisible payments for business travel will see significant growth in the next five years, as companies cater to traveller demand for ‘bleisure’ travel and technologies that are familiar from leisure trips. 

A third (32 per cent) of travel decision-makers who allow bleisure days say traveller demand for ‘bleisure’, or a blend of business and leisure, experiences has increased over the last year. This trend is now almost universally accepted by corporations: over nine in ten (94 per cent) say their company allows travellers to extend their trip with leisure days.

Those that allow ‘bleisure’ permit travellers to tack, on average, an additional four days of personal time onto their business trips. While companies allow this for many reasons, the greatest proportion (65 per cent) say it’s to ensure their employees feel valued – reflecting an emerging trend to use business travel as a potential engagement tool for the workforce.

Traveller preference driving appetite for mobile and digital wallets

This blending of business and leisure is reflected in the apps and technologies that travellers now wish to use – many of them mainstays in consumer travel. Three in ten travel managers (29 per cent) say requests to pay via mobile wallets have increased over the last year, and a quarter (26 per cent) have noted a rise in the number of travellers who want to book their trips on a supplier mobile app.

It seems these requests have been successful: while four in ten (37 per cent) travel buyers have noted an increase in the use of virtual cards over the past five years, an even greater proportion (49 per cent) have seen the rising use of digital or mobile wallets. Interestingly, 49 per cent have also witnessed an uplift in the use of physical corporate cards, pointing to parallel growth in digital and traditional payment methods over the previous half-decade.

Digital and mobile wallets are expected to gain further momentum in the future. Two-thirds (66 per cent) of travel buyers anticipate that their use will increase over the next five years, while 58 per cent expect to see an uplift in the use of ‘invisible payments’ – entering card details once into an app for repeat purchasing – over the same period.

Three in ten decision-makers (30 per cent) say the widespread supplier acceptance of digital payments will help drive their uptake in the future. These expectations highlight the need for suppliers to ensure they can process different payment methods in the years to come to stay relevant in the market.

Payment pain points

The research also highlights common frustrations when it comes to paying for business travel today. Travellers using their personal cards for business travel expenses – making it hard to track whether they are staying within policy – ranks highest, cited by a third (33 per cent) of travel decision-makers. In addition, three in ten businesses (29 per cent) say travellers are increasingly booking trips via mobile apps, which is currently incompatible with their company’s preferred payment method. Having a payment declined for no apparent reason is another frustration, with travel buyers experiencing this, on average, 11 times per month – a problem which suppliers could solve by optimising the way they take payments.

This changing business travel and payments landscape is creating challenges for corporations. Over four in ten travel decision-makers (43 per cent) are more concerned about their level of control over their businesses’ travel and entertainment expenses than they were 12 months ago.

Maria Parpou, Director of Barclaycard Commercial Payments, said:
“Today’s business travellers are blurring the lines between their personal and professional lives – not only by adding holiday days to business travel, but also in their expectations for the entire trip experience. As consumers become accustomed to different ways to purchase their leisure trips, including mobile and invisible payments, they expect their business travel bookings to be just as easy.

“As this trend evolves, corporations and suppliers alike need to look at how they make and take payments. The good news is that there are already solutions available that will help businesses meet their changing needs. By taking advantage of digital payment methods such as mobile wallets and virtual cards which are rich with data, payments can become the thread that ties each booking – no matter where or how it was made – into a complete trip. This means companies can respond to traveller demands while balancing their need for compliance and control.”

Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Linda Yang, Senior Public Relations Manager, Barclaycard, on +44 (0) 20 3555 5586 or, or visit

Online interviews were carried out with 250 travel decision makers in large UK companies by Opinium research in February 2018. 

About Barclaycard

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit and point-of-sale finance. In 2016 we processed over £250bn in transactions globally. Barclaycard is a pioneer of new forms of payment and is at the forefront of developing viable contactless and mobile payment schemes for today and cutting-edge forms of payment for the future. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.

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