Commentary

More Business Travel in 2014; Road Warriors Loyal to Airlines, Hotels

According to a new survey conducted by Frequent Business Traveler in association with FlyerTalk, 35.7% of business travelers surveyed said they will travel more in the coming year than the current one, while 47.2% said they will travel the same amount. The survey also highlighted several trends in business travel including membership in frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, traveler loyalty to hotel chains and airline alliances and preferences about where travelers prefer to work and eat.

Over 93% of those surveyed said they prefer to fly with a particular airline or alliance, while only 72% said they prefer to stay at a particular brand of hotel. 

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When it comes to loyalty, almost three quarters of those surveyed said they prefer to stay at their favorite brand of hotel.  In addition, 55% will stay at their favorite brand even if the property isn’t conveniently located, while the rest will select a different hotel option.  Out of the 84% of travelers who said they work from the hotel when traveling, 86% say that they often do so in their hotel room. Lounges increased in popularity as almost 6% said they prefer to work there, while the number of travelers who say they like to work in a hotel’s lobby dropped from 7% to less than 1%.

Regarding dining, two-thirds of respondents prefer to eat at a restaurant outside the hotel.  The number of travelers who prefer dining at the hotel was virtually unchanged, with 10% eating in hotel restaurants and 7% using room service, something that may change as several hotels in the U.S. have announced plans to discontinue in-room dining

93% of frequent business travelers prefer to fly with a particular airline or alliance. The preferences are so strong that 75% of those surveyed said that they would choose to fly with their preferred airline or alliance even if the flights were not as convenient as those on a different airline.

However, regarding the in-flight experience of those who have a preferred airline, 25% said that their experience was consistent within that airline or alliance regardless of the flight.  A clear majority found that their experience on different flights within the same airline or alliance ranged from having some differences to varying greatly.

98.7% of survey respondents said they were members of a frequent flyer program.  Of these, 75% were members of two to five frequent flyer programs, and almost 14% were members of six or more.

Almost eight in ten respondents, indicated that complimentary Wi-Fi is important to them and influences their decision of which hotel to stay at, while eight out of ten flyers say that availability of Wi-Fi on a flight is not something that influences a ticket purchase.

The number of users who say they regularly use in-flight Wi-Fi declined to 38% this year from 60% last year, even though the number of planes that offer Wi-Fi increased dramatically.  The price of in-flight Wi-Fi has somewhat increased in the past year but it is not clear that this was the cause.

One of the greatest challenges travelers face is staying fit and making healthy eating decisions while on the road, says the report. Similar to last year, about 45% of those surveyed said that they typically use a hotel’s gym or fitness facilities and 20% once again said that the quality and size of the facilities influence their choice when booking a hotel.  In addition, 85% stated that they eat breakfast (the most important meal of the day) while traveling.

CONCLUSIONS

  • Corporate and business travel is clearly increasing for 2014 with over 36% of those surveyed saying that their travel patterns will increase.
  • What the business traveler expects, however, has dramatically shifted. Today’s traveler expects high-speed Internet throughout the property and on the aircraft and frequently starts his day with a workout and a presumably healthy breakfast.
  • When choosing which hotel to stay at or airline to fly on, the business traveler is looking for a quiet place to work, Internet connectivity, and consistency in the service provided.
  • For the second year in a row, the study shows that eight out of ten travelers will go out of their way to fly with a preferred airline or alliance, while only six out of ten will stay at a less conveniently located hotel just in order to stay with the brand.
  • Airlines apparently do a better job in ensuring a consistent experience across both the airline and alliance partners, although both have a long way to go.  Only 12% of respondents said that their experience was consistent across hotels that were part of the same group, while 25% of airline passengers said their flight experience was the same across the airline and its alliance partners.
  • The good news for both hotels and airlines is that eight out of ten respondents say that they prefer to both stay at a particular hotel brand or chain, as well as fly with a specific airline or alliance, when an inconvenient time or location is not a factor.
  • Finally, despite a marked decrease in the number of respondents who report they use in-flight Internet connectivity, staying connected will remain an important trend and consideration when choosing hotels and flights. Almost one quarter of the respondents who use in-flight internet say that its availability influences their buying decisions for flights while eight out of ten, up from seven out of ten last year, say that free in-room Wi-Fi play a significant part in their choice of hotel.

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