The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Week in Review

On Tuesday, the UK parliament rejected the Brexit deal that PM Theresa May had reached with the European Union, NPR reports. As the March 29 deadline quickly approaches, it’s possible that the UK will leave the EU with no deal in place. The UK could also unilaterally reverse its decision to leave, as ruled by the bloc’s highest court.

Car rental giant Enterprise is set to acquire corporate travel provider Deem, Skift notes. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

Also in acquisition news, TechCrunch reports American Express acquired Japan-based restaurant booking service Pocket Concierge in an undisclosed deal.

According to The Seattle Times, divers have recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the Lion Air jet that crashed in October. The aircraft crashed into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off, killing all 189 people on board.

After the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada, China is asking some of its state-run enterprises to avoid business trips to the U.S. and its allies, Bloomberg notes. The country is also asking them to take extra precautions to protect their devices if travel is necessary.

On the branding front, Travel Weekly reports Marriott is relaunching its loyalty program as Marriott Bonvoy, encompassing its Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards platforms.

Aer Lingus also unveiled a rebrand of their logo and livery this week, Buying Business Travel writes. The airline is set to take delivery of four A321LRs this year, which will allow them to introduce a new business class product.

According to Skift, event organizers are planning for stretched budgets this year. A poll of 1,200 event creators revealed that half expect their budget for 2019 to remain the same as the previous year; however, 49% also said they expect to be responsible for more events than last year.

All Nippon Airways is trialing driverless buses in a restricted area at Tokyo Haneda Airport, Business Traveller notes. The airline will run tests until January 25, and if the trial is successful, it could lead to the implementation of driverless buses at the airport by 2020.

The future of travel could also hold flying taxi services. According to Skift, Switzerland’s national rail service is in talks to develop air taxis that would transport customers from rail stations to destinations.


How the Sharing Economy is Changing Travel Policies

There is no doubt that the sharing economy – particularly the rise in ride sharing and home sharing services – are changing the face of travel. The recent GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ Global Report, in partnership with American Express, finds that beyond consumer travel, many business travelers and corporate travel policies are addressing the emerging sharing economy options. Forty-four percent of business travelers say their companies’ travel policies allow for ride-sharing services and 28 percent can now use home-sharing services.

The research also finds that more than one in five don’t know if their employer’s travel policies allow ride-sharing or home-sharing services (22 percent and 23 percent, respectively). Despite this confusion, 61 percent of travelers who are required to follow a travel policy or guidelines are satisfied with the ease of understanding their company’s travel policies. A similar number of respondents are satisfied with the flexibility in planning trips (60 percent) and changing their itinerary as needed (58 percent) under their companies’ travel policy.

Internationally, some companies are more open to embracing sharing-economy services than others. Seventy-nine percent of business travelers in Mexico and 61 percent in the United States are able to use ride-sharing services compared with 44 percent of respondents overall, while 42 percent of Hong Kong-based business travelers are free to use home-sharing services compared to 28 percent of respondents overall.

There is no question that the sharing economy will continue to alter how business travel is conducted. With the sharing economy rapidly changing the travel landscape, there are a number of considerations that individual business travelers as well as corporate travel departments need to account for when approving use of sharing-economy options. Personal liability, security or broader duty of care concerns top the list. Business travelers and travel buyers must be aware of these changes, their benefits and drawbacks, and consider all scenarios when updating, incorporating, sharing and following a corporate travel policy.

To learn more about global business travel trends and get more information on how business traveler sentiment has changed over the past year and an understanding of differences in traveler behavior by country, please join a complimentary webinar tomorrow, September 21. Registration is available now. To download the full report, please click here.


To Sit Back and Relax or Sit Back and Work During a Flight?

Once upon a time, people would dress up before getting on an airplane. On board, flight attendants would serve complimentary meals with real silverware. Playing cards would be handed out to passengers to help pass the time. While much has changed since then – gone are the meals, the silverware, and the dress clothes – relaxing, be it with a deck of cards or otherwise, is still the preferred activity for business travelers on board an airplane.

Of course, now the cards are most likely a phone or tablet version of solitaire, but more than one-half of all business travelers (51 percent) still prefer to use their flight time to unwind and relax – be it reading, watching a movie or doing something other than work. All those years of captains telling passengers to sit back, relax and enjoy the flight have been embraced by and large by business travelers, according to the GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ Global Report, in partnership with American Express.

The number who prefer not to work in-flight is even higher for business travelers in Japan and Australia where 61 and 60 percent, respectively, prefer leisure activities. Baby Boomers are the most likely age group to prefer relaxing on an airplane, with 57 percent saying that is how they prefer to spend their flight time.

What about the 49 percent of business travelers who prefer to work during flights? For them, there is room for improvement. When it comes to working onboard, lack of in-seat power outlets is the biggest hindrance to inflight productivity. Seventy-two percent say too few outlets contribute at least some to their inability to get work done, followed by 68 percent who say seat size, 67 percent citing tray table size, and 65 percent claiming lack of adequate USB outlets hinder their ability to get work done in-flight.

Overall, business travelers’ satisfaction with air travel increased from 2015 to 2016, from 64 percent satisfied to 69 percent. This high satisfaction with air travel is even more impressive given that the element of business travel with the least satisfaction is getting through airport security.

Despite the seismic changes in the airline industry in recent years, business travelers still seem to enjoy their air travel experiences – and many are using the time in the air to unwind and relax.

To learn more about global business travel trends and get more information on how business traveler sentiment has changed over the past year and an understanding of differences in traveler behavior by country, please join a complimentary webinar on September 21. Registration is available now. To download the full report, please click here.


Business Traveler Satisfaction: The Generational Divide

In general, frequent business travelers are a content group with 88 percent satisfied with their business travel experiences and 84 percent that want to travel either the same amount or more frequently than they do now. It’s no secret that happy employees tend to be more productive, which could mean a better bottom line for your company. But what drives this satisfaction across workforces that are diverse in demographic, experience and generational differences? Today, the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in partnership with American Express Global Business Travel released new research that explores what drives and impacts travel satisfaction for frequent business travelers by the generations.

The new study, Traveler Satisfaction: Exploring the Generational Divide in Business Travel, identifies four key themes that correlate with business travel satisfaction: booking, productivity during travel, tracking and reporting and personal life. Of these themes, only booking and productivity during travel play a role in forecasting frequent business traveler satisfaction overall. The other two emerged when breaking the data down by generation.

Breakdown by Generation: What Matters Most to Each Group

Booking covers everything from the variety of suppliers that travelers can choose from to book and how they are able to book to the ease of making changes to their trip and more.  As booking is often a pain point for travelers, it’s no surprise that having a seamless booking experience drives satisfaction for business travelers of all ages.

booking-amex-gbt

Tracking and reporting focuses on variables including methods for submitting expense reports, tracking receipts and use of a personal or corporate card to pay for business expenses. Similar to booking, alleviating this pain point drives satisfaction for all business travelers.

tracking-and-reporting-amex-gbt

Productivity during travel includes variables such as traveling on a plane, renting a car, staying at hotels and enrollment in a risk-based security program like Global Entry or TSA PreCheck among others. Overall, getting through airport security is an area of frustration for frequent business travelers and tools like Global Entry or TSA PreCheck help to mitigate these hassles. Frequent business travelers are paying for these tools themselves when their companies do not cover the cost (51 percent), and many have said that having these tools drastically improved their business travel experience.

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Personal life, or the ability to maintain good relationships with friends and children while traveling for work, influences satisfaction for Baby Boomers. Interestingly, this theme is to unique to the Boomer generation and did not resonate with Millennials or Gen-Xers.

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It is a true challenge for companies to build and sustain a satisfied employee base because of diverse generational needs. Acknowledging that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution is a step in the right direction for companies looking to improve employee satisfaction, particularly for employees who travel often to represent or promote their companies. The findings showed significant generational differences amongst frequent business travelers demonstrating that each generational group has unique needs. Companies should focus on supporting the key drivers of employee satisfaction and consider each driver through a generational lens.

Methodology: An online survey of 2,025 business travelers in the United States and Canada was fielded on January 4-19, 2016. This study focuses on 805 of those respondents who have traveled four or more times for business in the past year making them frequent business travelers.

Read the Full Report: The study, Traveler Satisfaction: Exploring the Generational Divide in Business Travel, is available free of charge.  View the infographic and download the white paper by clicking here.

Learn More: A webinar featuring experts from American Express Global Business Travel and the GBTA Foundation will discuss business traveler satisfaction and take a deeper dive into the research on September 13 at 2pm ET. Complimentary registration is available now.

Additionally, we’ll be sharing more insights and findings from the research in posts to come. Check back here over the next few weeks to learn more.


How Do Business Travelers Feel About Business Travel?

Business travel drives business growth. Despite the myriad of ways people can communicate, meeting in person is still the one of the most effective way to conduct business with the greatest ROI.  Despite the diversity of reasons for business travel and the stress that can come from being in a new situation, traveling to a foreign country or meeting a new client for the first time, business travelers from around the world tend to be satisfied with their overall trip experience. That is one of the key findings of the recent GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ Global Report, in partnership with American Express.

The study examined the views of business travelers from around the world (Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States) who went on at least four business trips in the last twelve months. While there was some variation from country to country, 73 percent of respondents overall report they are satisfied with their overall business travel experience.

Seven key components of the business travel experience were analyzed and tracked against previous responses from a 2015 wave of the study. These were Overall Trip Experience and Travel Friction; Expense Tracking and Management; Travel Management Policy Friction; Business Travel Safety; Corporate/Macroeconomic Environment; Technology for Business Travel; and Social Media Experience. Within the Overall Trip Experience and Travel Friction component, the element business travelers are most satisfied with is staying at hotels, with 75 percent saying they are satisfied. The least satisfying element of this same component is getting through airport security at 54 percent, though that is a significant improvement over last year.

satisfaction-with-elements-of-travel

Overall, satisfaction for business travelers is highly correlated with their satisfaction when it comes to meeting their business goals for a trip, and 42 percent indicate they would travel more for business if they could. Respondents who say they either aren’t satisfied or feel neutral toward meeting business goals on their trips feel that having improved Wi-Fi access, clearer objectives, more time with clients, and a larger budget so the trip could be extended would have helped.

The new report also highlights that business travelers are embracing both the rapid advances in technology – with Wi-Fi now being seen as vital to a business trip’s success – and the evolving sharing economy. However, while there is interest from business travelers when it comes to using both emerging technologies such as mobile apps and emerging services such as ride-sharing and home-sharing options, more than one in five don’t know if their employers’ travel policies allow such services.

Overall, the report findings reaffirm the importance of business travel in our global economy.

To learn more about global business travel trends and get more information on how business traveler sentiment has changed over the past year and an understanding of differences in traveler behavior by country, please join a complimentary webinar on September 21. Registration is available now. To download the full report, please click here.


GBTA Canada Conference Education Sessions Seek to Connect, Inspire and Unite Attendees

Next week, GBTA Conference 2016 Toronto will kick off the largest business travel management event in Canada. GBTA is committed to delivering Canada’s most comprehensive educational and informational business travel management show as we look to connect, inspire and unite travel professionals across North America.

In addition to a stellar line-up of speakers, the conference will feature 14 unparalleled education breakout sessions. The sessions will focus on a variety of topics important to our industry including risk, duty of care, hotel negotiations, ancillary fees, travel policy and more.

Education Session Schedule:

Tuesday, April 18, 2016

10:30 am

11:45 am

 

Wednesday, April 19, 2016

9 am

1:30 pm

These timely education sessions are designed to focus on the issues and challenges today’s travel management professional faces. Each session is geared towards delivering hands-on learning that will leave attendees with ideas and solutions that they can put into action for their company.


New Survey Finds Satisfaction Significantly Higher for Business Travelers Enrolled in TSA PreCheck

Navigating airport security is one of the most important parts of the modern travel process, yet, at times, it can be the most frustrating. Every day, as business travelers enter security lines at airports, their blood pressure increases as they wait in line to take off their shoes, remove their belts and place laptops in their own separate bins.

Everyone can appreciate the need for effective security procedures, but, for many, this appreciation does not alleviate the aggravation that is felt while inching through a slow line.

A new survey, the GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™ in partnership with American Express, spotlights a better way to help alleviate stress during the security screening process. According to the survey, those business travelers who have enrolled in one of the nation’s largest risk-based security programs – known as TSA PreCheck – report a significantly better air travel experience than their peers who have not.

TSAPreCheckStats

We asked over 800 business travelers whether they’re satisfied with the current process for getting through airport security. Two thirds (66 percent) of business travelers enrolled in TSA PreCheck said that they were satisfied with the security process. By comparison, 47 percent of business travelers not enrolled in the program reported satisfaction.

Similarly, those enrolled in TSA PreCheck are more likely to be satisfied with traveling on an airplane – 66 percent – compared to 54 percent for those not enrolled.

In this survey, we also examined who has signed up for the program. In this area, Baby Boomers are more travel savvy than their younger colleagues — 51 percent of Baby Boomers (55+) surveyed are enrolled; compared to 37 percent of Gen Xers (35-54) and just 32 percent of Millennials (18-34). One consideration for this is that veteran road warriors likely have decades of business travel under their belt and are acutely aware of the value TSA PreCheck brings to their travels.

At GBTA, we strongly support risk-based programs. Checkpoint screening delays and long Customs lines at airports cost travelers time and money, and reduce business opportunities. Risk-based programs like TSA PreCheck and Customs Border Protection’s Global Entry allow business travelers to move through security quickly and avoid travel hassles and delays.

At the same time, these programs better allocate staffing, equipment and administration, and also reduces the need for budget and fee increases – all of which can help contribute to a more seamless airport experience for business travelers around the world.


7 Key Takeaways on Business Traveler Attitudes

The latest GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™, in partnership with American Express, was released todayand is full of valuable information on business travelers’ feelings about their travel experience and how those feelings affect their actual travel behavior. This is the fourth round of this survey, which covers overall trip experience, travel policy, expense tracking and management, business travel safety, social media experiences, technology for business travel and the economic environment.

Here are just a few of the survey highlights:

  • The Index recovered from its third-quarter dip, increasing 3.3 percent from Q3 (95.1) to Q4 (98.2), almost fully recovering to its second-quarter status (98.7). This means the overall trip experience for business travelers improved during this time period, due primarily to improvements of the expense tracking and management component as well as the overall trip experience and travel friction component.
  • Almost all (95 percent) business travelers with TSA Preü® feel it has expedited their travel experience. Those with TSA Preü® are significantly more likely to be satisfied with their ability to get through airport security (66 percent) compared to those without it (47 percent), and are also more likely to be satisfied with their experience traveling on an airplane in general (66 percent compared to 54 percent) as well.
  • In the past three months, on average, business travelers took an airplane for three of their four business trips. When it came to making decisions about which airline to fly, convenience and cost top the list for business travelers.

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  • Business travelers’ thoughts and experiences about expense reporting improved this quarter as the expense tracking and management index component increased significantly (6.3 percent) from Q3 to Q4 going from 95.1 to 101.1, surpassing even the baseline of 100 established in Q1. The survey also revealed that satisfaction with completing expense reports is highly correlated with the requirements and methods of submitting reports and receipts. So, the more business travelers are satisfied with their company’s policies and practices for expense reporting, the more satisfied they are with their ability to complete expense reports, in general.
  • Nearly one-half of U.S. business travelers (49 percent) are required to follow stated travel policies, while roughly one-third (34 percent) are encouraged to follow general guidelines and one in six (17 percent) have no travel policy whatsoever. When it comes to travel policies, more than three-quarters (78 percent) feel it is important for them to be able to acquire and use travel rewards and perks at their own discretion.

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  • About one-third of business travelers (36 percent) report extending their business trip for leisure travel in the past three months and roughly two-thirds (67 percent) say having the option to do so is important to them. Those extending business trips for leisure time most often do so to explore and enjoy the destination (63 percent) or to visit friends or family members (48 percent).
  • Business travelers continue to believe that access to Wi-Fi is vital to their productivity when traveling (83 percent). Almost as many also say access to technology helps them keep up with other work demands when traveling for business (79 percent), and more than half believe mobile apps enhance their travel experience (52 percent).

MobileTech


#RoadWarriors

Millennials, far more than their Gen X or Baby Boomer colleagues, want to travel more for business. For some, this is part of a love affair with the road. For others, it’s a realization that nothing – not even technology – can replace a face-to-face meeting.

Overall, according to a new U.S. study from the GBTA Foundation in partnership with American Express, 45 percent of Millennial business travelers want to travel more for business, compared with just 26 percent of Baby Boomers and 36 percent of Gen Xers. This is a substantial difference, which indicates that a generational and cultural shift may be taking place.

So what might be behind this travel trend?

The simplest answer is that many Millennials have fewer obligations than their older colleagues so it’s easier for them to pick up and go for a few days, a week or longer. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers clearly see the value of travel as well, but sometimes the difficulty of juggling family and work schedules makes travel more of a hassle than an opportunity. Millennials are also no more than 10 years into their careers, meaning many may have less disposable income and enjoy the opportunity to travel on someone else’s dime. Additionally 21 percent of Baby Boomers take more than 20 trips per year while only 16 percent of Millennials do, so they may be looking for the same opportunities to travel as their older colleagues. These aspects are very likely part of the answer, but Millennials’ embrace of business travel goes much deeper.

This generation has been traveling since they were born and have come to appreciate travel, whether for business or leisure. Travel, to them, is much more than about getting from place A to place B; it’s about creating an authentic experience.

Passports to world travel

Like their older colleagues, a majority of Millennials – fully 57 percent – see the value of face-to-face meetings and don’t believe they can be replaced by technology. To me, this is a clear indicator that Millennials get the value of business travel.

But once the job is done, they will likely want to get outside the bounds of the convention center, skyscraper or office park and experience the city they’re in, the way the locals do. They connect with friends (46 percent) and colleagues (33 percent) over social media, and some will make the city their home for just a few days. And it shouldn’t be a surprise when they post photos of their trip on Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat.

Millennials are much less likely to be willing to float reimbursable expenses on their personal credit cards than their older peers, as 62 percent of overall travelers compared to 53 percent of Millennials were satisfied with personal card use to pay for business travel expenses.

On the other hand, Millennials are less concerned than others about some of the downsides of travel – the security lines, the baggage fees, the delays. Give them (free) Wi-Fi, and they’ll be just fine. When asked to select one amenity all airlines should offer, 52 percent of travelers overall rank getting through security above all airport amenities, while only 35 percent of Millennials found this most important compared to 59 percent of Baby Boomers. On top of that, 54 percent of Millennials want free Wi-Fi at the airport compared to 44 percent of Baby Boomers.

So the full snapshot indicates that Millennials have really embraced business travel. Yes, they’re doing it their way, relying heavily upon technology and their extended social networks, but they are ready, willing and able to drive business results from the road.


Millennials Want to Travel More for Business

A new study released today from the GBTA Foundation, in partnership with American Express, reveals that Millennials are significantly more likely to want to travel more for business than Baby Boomers (45 percent to 26 percent, respectively). In addition, a majority of Millennials (57 percent) believe technology can never replace face-to-face meetings to get business done.

The study dug deeper to find out how Millennials feel about many things related to business travel.

Airline and Airport Amenities
When it comes to airline and airport amenities, Millennials, not surprisingly, have different desires than Baby Boomers. When asked to select one amenity all airlines should offer, Millennials care more about free Wi-Fi on flights than Baby Boomers (30 percent compared to 17 percent) and are less likely than Baby Boomers to want free checked bags (34 percent compared to 47 percent). They are also much more likely to book a flight offering free Wi-Fi than Baby Boomers (49 percent compared to 39 percent).

AmExwave3_DesiredAmenitiesAirline

At the airport, Wi-Fi is again paramount for Millennials, with 54 percent looking for free Wi-Fi compared to 44 percent of Baby Boomers. In fact, it is even more important to them than getting through security smoothly. Business travelers overall rank getting through security easily (52 percent) top among airport amenities. When you break it down by age group though, only 35 percent of Millennials compared to 59 percent of Boomers find this important. As most Millennials are only familiar with business travel post-9-11 travel procedures, the current practices may not seem as laborious to them as older travelers.

AmExWave3_DesiredAmenitiesAirport

Hotel Habits
When booking hotels, it is very important for business travelers to be close to the place they need to visit for work (87 percent), however, all things being equal, three quarters (76 percent) also say they are more likely to stay at a hotel offering free Wi-Fi than at one that does not. When looking at other hotel features, Millennials are much more interested in having access to a pool or fitness center than Baby Boomers (53 percent compared to 40 percent) while access to a business center is more important to Baby Boomers (56 percent).

Corporate Cards Over Personal Cards
Business travelers overall are more satisfied with using a corporate card (77 percent) for expenses on the road than their personal card (62 percent) and Millennials show the greatest preference for using corporate cards rather than their personal ones.

Social Networking
Younger business travelers are much more likely to use social networking for a variety of purposes when traveling for work than their older cohorts. Whether it is to meet up with friends (46 percent compared to 31 percent of overall business travelers) or colleagues (33 percent compared to 24 percent) or to research company reviews (37 percent compared to 28 percent), Millennials much more often turn to social networking sites for making plans and decisions when on the road for work than business travelers overall. AmExWave3_SocialMediaByGeneration

Understanding the wants and needs of Millennial business travelers can help both travel buyers and suppliers to create a more satisfactory business travel experience for this newest group of road warriors. Stay tuned for another post on the GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™, in partnership with American Express, to learn more about how business travelers feel about their travel experience and how those feelings affect their actual behaviors related to travel.