New research released today by the GBTA Foundation and American Express looks into how U.S. business travelers feel about their travel experience and how those feelings affect their actual behaviors related to travel. The GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™, in partnership with American Express, is a proprietary data-centered barometer based on business traveler’s attitudes toward several key components of business-related travel. These results will serve as a benchmark going forward to measure attitudes and feelings around business travel and will help provide forecasts for the upcoming year.
Here are five key takeaways from the inaugural GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™, in partnership with American Express:
- U.S. business travelers put a high premium on convenience, particularly when it comes to their flight schedule choices. When booking flights, more business travelers say their top consideration is convenient flight schedules (36 percent) compared with ticket price (24 percent) and other airline perks. Time is money for business travelers, so it is not surprising they place such a high premium on convenience. While a more convenient flight or a hotel closer to a meeting may cost slightly more, it is worth it to the business traveler and their company if it allows them to be more productive and maximize their time.
- Travelers are generally satisfied with business travel. Overall satisfaction with business travel is most strongly linked to travelers’ satisfaction with hotel stays and making their own travel arrangements, within their company policy. In fact, three-quarters or more of survey respondents are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with hotel stays for work (78 percent) and making their own arrangements (75 percent). Business travelers, however, are more disillusioned with airports and flights. Only slightly more than half of the business travelers surveyed are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” by airplane travel (57 percent) and getting through airport security (55 percent).
- Connectivity is critical for travelers to be productive on the road. Nearly nine-in-ten travelers (86 percent) say access to Wi-Fi is “vital to work productivity while traveling,” and free access to Wi-Fi is one of the top items travelers believe all airlines should offer (26 percent), surpassed only by free checked bags (37 percent).
- Frequent business travelers find tracking and managing expenses challenging. On average, travelers who took a dozen or more trips for work in 2014 were generally less satisfied with their ability to track receipts than travelers who traveled for work less often (on a seven-point scale, 5.6 mean among those who traveled 12 or more times vs. 5.8 mean among those who traveled four to 11 times in 2014). In general, nearly two-thirds of all business travelers are highly satisfied with processes they use to track expense receipts (65 percent) and complete expense reports (63 percent).
- Most business travelers are comfortable with their companies’ travel policies, with 62 percent of business travelers surveyed saying they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their company’s travel policies. The majority of business travelers are also generally satisfied with their companies’ safety efforts, but there is room for improvement. Seventy-one percent of travelers “agree” or “strongly agree” that their employers care about their well-being and safety when they travel for work. Slightly more than half (56 percent) agreed that they “always feel safe” while traveling, and 55 percent said their desire to feel safe affects their travel choices.