Booking Business Travel…Business or Pleasure?

by Chris Warren

Booking Business Travel…Business or Pleasure?

The busy professional lives of business travellers place many competing demands on their time starved schedules. So one might assume they would jump at the chance to delegate any task where they can save time - travel bookings, for example. However, globally only 22 per cent of business travellers would ‘always’ let someone else book their travel if the option were available.

54 per cent would ‘sometimes’ delegate booking their travel and the remaining 24 per cent would never let someone else book their travel.

Seven-in-ten travellers currently book their own travel but of these only one-fifth do so out of necessity (there is nobody to do it for them), the remainder have other motivations. Below we examine these themes along with requirements business travellers state they have for the booking process.

The 6,072 travellers surveyed as part of the global 2016 Egencia Business and Travel Technology Study, are clear about what they want from the booking process: Control, Flexibility, Ease and Speed.

  • Control - A perceived lack of expertise in booking business travel and the requirements of meeting budgets, present stresses that travellers are keen to avoid. Yet of the seven-in-ten travellers booking their own travel, half cite greater control as reason for doing so. The lesson for travel providers and bookers alike is clear – travellers want as few limitations as possible.
  • Flexibility - Changing reservations is business travellers’ top frustration with the booking process and was mentioned by 50 per cent of travellers in our survey. Plans change, meetings get moved and the message from travellers is that the industry is not flexible enough in these situations.
  • Ease - As discussed here, leisure travel booking systems typically offer great ease of use, in part due to the competitive market place and ease of switching. Business travellers expect no less at work. One-third expect their travel system to remember their preferences and one-third also expect personalised choices.
  • Speed - The amount of time it takes to book travel is the current number one complaint about booking business travel, so it's no surprise to see speed cited as critical to an enjoyable booking process. Further, two-fifths state that when booking their own travel, it is important that the system they use should save them time

Other highlights from the study Include (all based on global findings):

Overall business trips are a positive experience

Most enjoy business travel with seven-in-ten stating it is more enjoyable than a normal working day. Amongst the positive elements of business trips, “enjoying local cuisine” (59 per cent), “being able to think more creatively” (38 per cent) and “being more sociable than usual” (37 per cent) are mentioned most. However, four-in-ten also state that it is more stressful than a normal working day, which is not surprising given that:

  • 32 per cent have lost luggage
  • 29 per cent have missed a train/flight
  • 18 per cent have become annoyed with colleagues
  • 7 per cent have got drunk and embarrassed themselves.

After all of this, the most common emotions on returning home are: tiredness (43 per cent), relief (28 per cent) and exhaustion (21 per cent)

Business travellers place considerable value on taking direct flights

Three-fifths of travellers are typically allowed to stay in hotels close to their meeting location, even if they aren’t the cheapest and half are allowed to fly in early to rest. However, travellers themselves rate being allowed to fly directly (even when not the cheapest option) as the most valued ‘perk’ of business travel, at present 55 per cent are allowed to do so.

Travellers expect companies to monitor their personal safety

With a spate of recent terrorist attacks, the topic of personal safety is rarely out of the media. It is a concern for business travellers as well with two-thirds stating they expect their employers to monitor their safety. Three-quarters would use a fast alert service to assure their family of their safety if it were offered by their company.

 

About the Study

This study was conducted on behalf of Egencia by Northstar, a globally integrated strategic insights consulting firm. The study was conducted among 6,072 business travellers aged 18 and older in UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, China, Australia, India, USA, Canada. Surveys were completed online in January 2016. Assuming a probability sample, the margin of error would be +/-1.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

UK Head of Quantitative Research, Northstar. Responsible for coordinating the development of the quantitative department, Chris has a particular interest in finding and integrating the latest techniques into research projects - whether that be augmented reality, non-conscious measurement or the latest conjoint techniques.