It’s been 50 years since the U.K. got its first commercial card product, and to celebrate, Barclays released a report highlighting how business spending has evolved in the last half-century.
Buying Business Travel said on Monday (July 30) that Barclays conducted a survey about how businesses are using their commercial cards today, and how that’s changed in the last few decades.
In the 1980s and 1990s, for example, nearly half of all business travel expenses went to hotel accommodation. Today, only a quarter stems from hotels. Airfare, too, has seen a significant decrease after reaching its peak in the 1990s and 2000s; today, Barclays said, it accounts for only 12 percent of business travel expenses.
There could be several possible explanations for these changes. Nearly a third of professionals surveyed said the number of items they are allows to expense has decreased over the years.
The introduction of the commercial card has also enabled business travelers to use their card for smaller expenses, which might have previously been purchased with petty cash, the report added.
Professionals have also dramatically decreased their dependence on personal assistants to process expenses; 50 years ago, 20 percent used assistants for this purpose — today that number is 17 percent.
“Business spending has changed dramatically since Barclaycard introduced the first corporate credit card back in 1968,” Barclaycard Commercial Payments’ managing director, Marc Pettican, said in a statement. “This was a major moment in the development of U.K. companies and how they managed, because suddenly an entire generation of workers gained more flexibility in their day-to-day working lives.”
Pettican added that rising complexity and diverse needs among businesses and their traveling employees have also led to changes in the business travel expense arena.
“Fast forward 50 years and companies have become more complex and diverse, with very different needs,” he said. “This is reflected in the range of expenses and the methods of claiming them that were popular then and now.”