Business travellers put convenience above cost, index shows

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Convenience is the number one priority for business travellers, according to new research published by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

The GBTA Business Traveller Sentiment Index, which is produced in conjunction with American Express, examines the views of US employees who are required to travel for work.

While many travel management companies (TMCs) may assume cost is the number one priority for their clients, this research suggests that could be a dangerous assumption to make.

Flights must be flexible

When it comes to booking flights, over one-third of those questioned (36 per cent) noted convenience in terms of flight schedules as their top concern, which compared with just 24 per cent who cited cost as their number one priority. Some 20 per cent of those questioned said the ability to earn airmiles was most important.

Some 57 per cent of those questioned said they were 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with airline travel, but a number of reasons were given for issues that make travel harder than it was three years ago.

Nearly half of those questioned (45 per cent) stated delays made travelling by plane difficult, while one-third cited airline security as an issue and 29 per cent said airline fees were a concern.

Overall satisfaction with hotels among US travellers

TMCs responsible for booking hotels for clients in the US will no doubt be pleased to hear that the majority of respondents (78 per cent) said they were either 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with accommodation booked for them for work trips.

In terms of expectations, the report suggests connectivity is right at the top of the list. Some 86 per cent said access to Wi-Fi was "vital to work productivity while travelling". Business travellers expect to be connected on the move too. Over one-quarter of respondents (26 per cent) said they believed all airlines should offer free internet access.

Employees have issues tracking and managing travel expenses

More frequent business travellers (those who travel for work 12 or more times a year) are less satisfied with their ability to track receipts than those who travel less. This is where TMCs can really add value.

Software like ProCon Solution's ProTAS mid-back office system collects information from an agency's bookings and integrates it into the workflow process - from order creation, invoicing, posting of financial transactions to the formation of MIS data.

It can then produce in-depth reports detailing an individual's travel itinerary and expenses, so employees don't need to worry about monitoring and keeping track of paperwork.

Travel policies are important  

The report also looked at attitudes towards companies' travel policies. Encouragingly, 62 per cent of business travellers said they were satisfied with theirs.

In terms of issues, the ease of changing itineraries was a concern for some. While 59 per cent said they were either 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with how easy it was to change an itinerary, 35 per cent were neutral about it and six per cent were 'dissatisfied' or 'very dissatisfied'.

Safety is also a concern for many, with 55 per cent of respondents stating their desire to feel safe has a direct impact on their travel plans.

Millennials behave differently to other groups

In order to be an effective TMC, it is vital to understand how different demographics behave. The GBTA report reveals that millennials use social media and mobile technology for their business trips.

Some 50 per cent said they use social media to review travel suppliers, compared with 40 per cent of employees in other age brackets.

Millennials are also more likely to consider room-finding services, with 35 per cent expressing an interest in them, and 46 per cent stating they would look at rideshare services.

While the report provides a snapshot of business travellers' priorities, it offers a good background against which TMCs can develop a programme that suits their clients' needs.

 
ProCon Solution A/S
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DK-2620 Albertslund
Phone: +45 4363 2266
Email: procon@procon.dk