Half of travel management professionals surveyed are using social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with their corporate travelers.
New research by American Express Business Travel also found that 44 percent of corporate travel professionals are also using social media to monitor and share the latest travel industry information with colleagues.
Some 43 percent of respondents told AMEX they use social networking tools to communicate best practices and reduce business travel costs.
On a sliding scale:
- 42 percent of participants use social networking to look for vendors and services from travelers.
- 34 percent look for travel patterns that could lend to better vendor rates and services.
- 27 percent look to gain visibility into business functions and departments.
- 26 percent use social media to encourage travelers to network.
- 18 percent of the respondents network with other travel manager/procurement officer peers
AMEX' findings shouldn't be a shock to anyone following the rise of Facebook and Twitter among business users.
Once considered a threat to corporate security -- and still is in some financial services firms -- Facebook has become an acceptable form of communication among not only colleagues, but among brands angling to promote themselves.
Corporate promotion is especially high on Twitter, where Dell, Disney, Pepsi and several other leading brands hawk their products.
Interestingly, while concerns about corporate privacy and data security created barriers to adoption for social networking among some enterpries in the last few years, AMEX found the most significant barrier to adoption of "social media as an organization has been the lack of direct benefits realization."
Twenty percent of respondents said they found the business case for social media tools and usage within travel management programs unclear.
However, only five percent of respondents said they have had no barriers or challenges to adopt social media tools as an organization.
Perhaps the most interesting line of questioning AMEX deigned to put in front of travel management professionals was what they would build if they could customize their social networking experience.
Sixty-one percent said they wanted the ability to accommodate business travel management processes. Some 39 percent said they preferred the ability to push out notifications and alerts.
Thirty-five percent said they wanted to monitor the entire social media sharing process, while 29 percent said they wanted some reporting ability to track Website abuse, comments and security issues.
The proliferation of social media tools and users is a big reason why AMEX created its BusinessTravelConneXion social network.
This platform is a forum where some 8,500 travel management specialists to share ideas, connect with other members, and leverage webcasts, videos and blogs to communicate.
Community members include travel buyers, suppliers, technology providers, industry experts and influencers.