Why is Business Travel the Center of the New Corporate Culture


Looking toward the future, it’s clear that how and where we work is changing - and travel is something inherently tied to that evolution.

To this end, Amex GBT and cultural analysis firm CULTIQUE have partnered to create a white paper - Why Business Travel Is the Center of The New Company Culture - to help companies decipher these shifts and act on the opportunity to reframe business travel from a transactional mechanism to a transformational tool.

A major lockdown legacy is the breakdown  of traditional work and travel  habits.  As the economy and society adjust to a new era, American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) and CULTIQUE assert that a company’s ability to thrive will now largely hinge on its ability to manage people movement. To help organizations succeed, corporate travel managers should now start thinking of themselves as Chief Journey Officers. In this white paper, we explain why the strategic management of business travel, meetings and mobility will be essential for cultivating winning cultures and achieving business goals.

The post-pandemic era has brought new challenges: adapting to distributed work, employee burnout, tight labor markets for attracting and retaining talent, and the ongoing volatility within national and global travel networks. However, with challenges come opportunities. By embracing change, travel managers can emerge as cultural leaders. They must reframe how their company views travel: no longer as a commodity but instead as an investment in creating everyday resilience and meaningful connections that future-proof “how we work” in ways that align with culture’s changing course.

This paper will also unpack emergent cultural terminology surrounding work and travel, and will feature quotes from key leaders of the Amex GBT Client Innovation Council (CIC) to shed light on insights and approaches industry wide.

New Challenges, New Possibilities

Just a few months before the pandemic sent work  trips  to  a  grinding  halt, beloved travel guru Rick Steves - enveloped in a “Sound of Music”-esque landscape -  graced a New York Times Magazine cover, sending a clear message that travel can dramatically enrich lives. Little did the world know at that moment how void of travel people’s lives would soon become. Yet when abilities are stripped away, appreciation and innovation can be quick to follow.

Ongoing volatility within global travel networks combined  with  unprecedented labor market pressures stemming from The Great Resignation have left companies - big and small, hybrid and remote - questioning their approach to people, work, and travel. The wellbeing and productivity concerns that have emerged in recent years have created a universal demand for organizations, including those  that never stopped traveling or commuting, to rethink how we work and why we meet.

As recent history attests, industry leaders see changes in cultural tides as opportunities to course-correct their management  strategies.  “We’ve  witnessed the emergence of Chief Data Officers, Chief Diversity Officers, and even Chief Wellness Officers - all roles demonstrating a clear reprioritization of new areas,” stated CULTIQUE co-founder Sarah Unger. “These moves represent a powerful way to address and elevate essential workplace needs.”

Refocusing business goals

Business travel was once a world shrouded in the minutia of expense lines, compliance and duty of care. Now travel managers’ quickly  expanded  roles require more agility, planning, awareness,  and  intention  behind  every  booking.  As a result, travel managers have the chance to rethink travel programs within the context of higher-order company priorities, and inclusive of historically-neglected, internal  travel  needs.  Seen  via  other  inspired  pivots  -  think  Airbnb’s  debut of online experiences or Disney’s shift from box  office to streaming - periods  of change are both inevitables and opportunities.

The whitepaper is available here.