The latest GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™, in partnership with American Express, shows business travelers enjoy most elements of the travel experience. Satisfaction is highest with staying at hotels (78 percent), the overall travel experience (73 percent) and making travel arrangements (73 percent).
While satisfaction levels are high, a decline of 3.7 percentage points in the Index from Wave 2 (98.7) to Wave 3 (95.1) of this research was observed, meaning the overall trip experience for business travelers has worsened quarter over quarter.
The Main Culprit – Declining Satisfaction with Getting Through Airport Security
Satisfaction with getting through security at the airport declined significantly in the past three months, dropping from 55 percent in the second quarter to 45 percent this quarter. The experience with traveling on an airplane declined as well (59 percent to 55 percent), although to a lesser extent, which is very likely linked to the frustrations with airport security. This is an area to watch because if getting through security continues to drag down satisfaction with air travel, it may begin to have a negative impact on the impressions of business travel more generally.
Losing Faith in the Economy?
Another concern raised in the study centers around confidence in the economy. While the Corporate/Macroeconomic component of the Index does not have nearly the same impact as the Overall Trip Experience and Travel Friction component that includes airline security, business travelers losing faith in the overall economy is nothing to ignore.
The percentage of travelers who believe the overall health of the economy is excellent dropped from 32 percent in the second quarter to just 21 percent this quarter. This is despite the fact that travelers’ views of the health of their own company or industry remained virtually unchanged and much more positive, respectively. More than half of business travelers feel their own company is in excellent financial shape (62 percent) and that the overall health of their industry is excellent (51 percent). Interestingly, those who have traveled 11 or more times in the past three months are also more likely to believe the health of their industry is excellent (62 percent).
Meeting Business Objectives
Going back to the high satisfaction levels with the overall business trip experience, a traveler meeting the objectives set out for their business trip is a factor that should not be underestimated. Statistics show business trip satisfaction is largely dictated by the successful completion of the trip’s objectives. In fact, 7 in 10 overall and 8 in 10 travelers working for companies with less than 100 employees say traveling for work helps them accomplish their annual goals.
Business travelers this quarter were more satisfied with their ability to meet the business goals of their trips than in the second quarter (83 percent compared to 79 percent). Because business travelers see hitting the road for work as a way to accomplish both short- and long-term goals, companies should equip their travelers with the tools and education they need to have a successful trip.