Corporations are putting a higher priority on mandating that employees use business travel booking policies, according to BCD Travel’s 2007 Annual Client Benchmark Survey—a trend that is also creeping into meetings and incentive travel policy.

This year marks the first time since 2004 that mandating travel policy has ranked as the No. 1 policy change for survey respondents, with companies reporting that air program compliance levels are greater than 80 percent, an increase of 25 percent over 2006. However, the percentage of bookings at corporate-contracted hotels fell below 70 percent due to the hotel seller’s market.

Here are other findings from the May 2007 survey of 219 travel buyers—BCD clients—from major markets across the globe, the results of which were released at the National Business Travel Association’s 39th Annual Convention & Trade Show in Boston in July.

• The survey showed an increase in the integration of components of meetings management programs into travel programs, with approximately 50 percent of all technology implementations now including meeting travel bookings within the online solution. But year-over-year changes in the meetings management sector have yet to yield major trend variances, according to the authors, who added, “however, by year’s end, we anticipate a shift in the company view of meetings management.”

• Procurement’s role in selecting and contracting for meeting services was clear, with 57 percent of respondents rating “increased budget control for group and meeting expenses” as above average or higher when considering their company’s management priorities.

• Just over half of respondents, 51 percent, rated “increased policy control over group and meeting activities” as above average or higher, perhaps because meeting budgets continued to grow, with 45 percent of respondents reporting that their meeting budgets increased in 2007 compared to 2006.

• Meetings of fewer than 50 attendees grew as a percentage of the total meetings planned, while the number of meetings for 50 to 250 attendees decreased.

• On the outsourcing front, the results showed that of those who use outside meeting planners, 38 percent used a single meeting planning company, which is a 15 percent increase over 2006; 36 percent used two to three meeting companies; and 26 percent used four or more.

• For the first time, respondents were asked about their corporate social responsibility programs, and while 50 percent indicated their company had one in place, only 23 percent said that travel is included as part of that program.