Business Travel Outlook: Travel to Increase in 2014 According to New Frequent Business Traveler Survey

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Corporate and business travel is clearly increasing for 2014 with over 36% of those surveyed saying that their travel patterns will increase and 50% saying that their travel will increase compared to two years ago.

This will give the business traveler a major role in the travel and hospitality industry in 2014 as they take to the road more often.

What the business traveler expects, however, has dramatically shifted.  Neon signs on roadside motels advertising “Color TV” or “Air Conditioning” no longer suffice.  Today’s traveler expects high-speed Internet throughout the property and on the aircraft and frequently starts his day with a workout and a presumably healthy breakfast.

When choosing which hotel to stay at or airline to fly on, the business traveler is looking for a quiet place to work, Internet connectivity, and consistency in the service provided.

The travel providers that are able to meet and exceed these requirements will get the business Traveler’s  business in 2014 and in the coming years.  Those who are able to exceed these requirements will also earn the business traveler’s loyalty, and that will pay them back time and time again.

It would behoove hotels to study the behavior patterns of frequent flyers and their relationship with frequent flyer programs.  As we saw in the results, travelers are far more loyal to airlines and alliance partners than hotels within a group or brand.

For the second year in a row, the study shows that eight out of ten travelers will go out of their way to fly with a preferred airline or alliance, while only six out of ten will stay at a less conveniently located hotel just in order to stay with the brand.

Airlines apparently do a better job in ensuring a consistent experience across both the airline and alliance partners, although both have a long way to go.  Only 12% of respondents said that their experience was consistent across hotels that were part of the same group while 25% of airline passengers said their flight experience was the same across the airline and its alliance partners.

The good news for both hotels and airlines is that eight out of ten respondents say that they prefer to both stay at a particular hotel brand or chain, as well as fly with a specific airline or alliance, when an inconvenient time or location is not a factor.

Almost all business travelers are members of a frequent flyer and/or hotel loyalty program. Of these, 75% are members of two to five frequent flyer loyalty programs and 80% are members of two to five hotel loyalty programs., The breakdown of how many programs travelers are members of is otherwise roughly the same for both airline loyalty programs, and hotel loyalty programs. What’s interesting here is that the sweet spot for frequent travelers is the range of two to five programs.  Six is clearly too many for most travelers and a lower number of memberships allows the traveler to focus his loyalty on a particular airline or alliance or hotel brand.

Finally, despite a marked decrease in the number of respondents who report they use in-flight Internet connectivity, staying connected will remain an important trend and consideration when choosing hotels and flights. Almost one quarter of the respondents who use in-flight internet say that its availability influences their buying decisions for flights while eight out of ten, up from seven out of ten last year, say that free in-room Wi-Fi play a significant part in their choice of hotel.

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