Flexibility and efficiency once again top of mind for Business Travelers during overall corporate travel rebound

Thursday 9, December 2010


Flexibility and efficiency once again top of mind for Business Travelers during overall corporate travel rebound


In contrast to the spring Orbitz for Business / Business Traveler Magazine Quarterly Trend Report, new survey data shows that flexibility and efficiency are now on par with cost savings during the overall rebound in corporate travel.


Of the 929 business travelers surveyed for the Fall report, only 38 percent felt 'very' or 'extremely' obligated to save their company money when they travel, compared to 70 percent of respondents surveyed in May.  The survey further indicates that business travelers have increasingly adopted airline ancillary services such as priority boarding and securing an aisle seat to customize their individual travel experience.  


The survey results also suggest continued strength in business travel through the fourth quarter and heading into 2011 with 84 percent of respondents saying they planned the same or more travel compared to the previous three months.  This is in line with recent data from the NBTA Foundation, which projects nearly seven percent growth for business travel in 2011.  


"Corporate travel continues to see strong growth, and while many business travelers remain cost conscious, the latest Orbitz for Business trend report indicates that efficiency and flexibility are getting strong consideration along with price," said Frank Petito, president, Orbitz for Business.  "Today's corporate travelers have more ways to tailor their business travel experience than ever before, and they are taking advantage of technology-enabled solutions to streamline and enhance that experience."  


Top Five Most Used Ancillary Services for Business Travelers

Ancillary fees have been a major revenue driver for airlines in 2010 and an important topic in the corporate travel industry.    In March of this year, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) projected an industry-wide loss of $2.8 billion.  IATA has since revised that figure to a profit of $8.9 billion this year with ancillary fees being a significant component of that growth.


As the unbundling of airline services continues, the Orbitz for Business / Business Traveler Magazine Quarterly Trend Report asked travelers to rank the ancillary fees they are most likely to incur during business travel.  


The top five most used airline ancillary services (in order):  

  • Securing an aisle row seat
  • Priority security line access and early boarding
  • Airline lounge or club access
  • Securing a seat near the front of the plane
  • Extra leg room in coach


Baggage check – one of the most utilized services in leisure travel –  ranked sixth on the list.  According to those surveyed, the least-used ancillary services are priority standby for an alternative flight and internet access.  While the latter may seem surprising, it suggests that business travelers use in-flight time as a 'safe haven' to stay disconnected and prepare or play catch up before plugging back in on arrival.    

The Top Five Most Significant Factors When Selecting Hotel Accommodations

In contrast to their airline counterparts, hotels have long embraced unbundled fees, and many of those services will ultimately influence where business travelers choose to stay.  


The Orbitz for Business / Business Traveler Magazine Quarterly Trend Report also asked survey respondents to rank the most significant factors when booking a hotel accommodation.


The top five most significant factors when booking a hotel (in order):


  • Loyalty or awards program points
  • Proximity to business meeting or event
  • On-site amenities such as Wi-Fi, on-site cleaners, exercise center, etc.  
  • Lower daily rate than comparable hotels
  • Hotel star rating


While choosing a lower daily rate is always good news for corporate travel managers, respondents cited 'hotel is a preferred supplier' as the least important reason to book a hotel.  And in contrast to leisure travel, only 17 percent of those surveyed said user reviews were extremely valuable in their selection process.    


Finally, only 10 percent of respondents said they have either shared a room or had their company encouraged them to share a room during a business trip.  


The Role of Mobile Technology in Planning and Purchasing Business Travel

Consistent with predications that mobile Internet adoption is expected to outpace the desktop Internet during the next two and a half years(1), the vast majority of online travelers (93 percent) now carry mobile devices, with nearly half of those devices being smartphones(2).


In the corporate travel realm, however, the Orbitz for Business / Business Traveler Magazine Quarterly Trend Report found that only 28 percent of business travelers today currently use their mobile devices to plan and book corporate travel.  Of those respondents that use a mobile device to plan business travel, the vast majority use it just for flight updates and check-in.  Less than a third (30 percent) actually book travel through their mobile device.  


"There remains an incredible opportunity for mobile search and booking in the corporate travel space," adds Petito.  "While not all corporate travelers and TMCs have fully embraced mobile bookings, it is only a matter of time before mobile booking for corporate travel becomes prevalent.   We've already seen great adoption of native mobile travel apps and mobile websites on the leisure side, and travelers will and should expect the same access and experience during their business travel."


Other Study Findings:

  • 55 percent of all respondents said they 'always' abide by their company's travel policies.  In those instances when travel is booked outside of company policy, respondents most frequently cited more flexibility in selecting hotel and flight options as the primary reason.  
  • 75 percent of all respondents said they book the vast majority (80% or more) of their travel online, demonstrating strong online adoption among business travelers.
  • 63 percent of respondents do not typically book their flight and hotel in the same transaction.  Only six percent always book their flight and hotel together.  



The Orbitz for Business/Business Traveler Magazine Quarterly Trend Report was conducted online from 10/7/10 through 10/14/10, using a MarketTools survey of 925 BT-e subscribers.  



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