The Top Five Things Business Travelers WantAccording to the U.S. Travel Association Americans will take 464 million business trips by the year 2022 for an average of three nights away from home and will spend more than $4,000 per trip. Now that the recession of 2008 is fading into the long-distant past, business travel is on the rise. According to Allied Market Research the business travel industry is estimated to hit an enormous $1.6 trillion by the year 2023.
With employees on the road more than ever, travel managers need to ask themselves: what do business travelers want from their trips? Booking a personal trip for leisure is much different than traveling for business. According to a recent Business Travel News article, What Business Travelers Want, “The vast majority of business travelers enjoy work trips, but they tend to value convenience and control over comfort and amenities. Among more than 5,500 business travelers in North America, Europe and Asia/Pacific, convenient travel times and hotel locations were more important than flying business class or earning loyalty points.”
As business travelers’ wants increase and travel programs become more complex, the role of the travel manager must expand. Travel managers need to focus not just on traveler safety, cost and compliance, but on travel’s impact on the company’s overall goals. No longer order takers, travel managers also play a key role in ensuring traveler satisfaction and enabling the strategic direction of the company,
As a travel manager in today’s fast-paced corporate travel industry, how can you best serve business travelers? Below, we’ll explore what business travelers want, and how enterprising travel managers can deliver.
1. Business travelers value convenience above all else.
To manage a successful travel program corporations, need to outline where and on what platforms business travelers can book their trips. Surprisingly, only 62% of all U.S. employees’ book within the company’s drafted policy.
Well, it pays to understand the top motivators for business travelers. Going back to the Phocuswright research: 35% of surveyed business travelers book out-of-policy because they are looking for the most convenient options for their trip, and their program doesn’t offer those options.
This creates frustration and increases the time it takes business travelers to book and manage their travel. The more time they spend trying to organize a trip, the less time they have to actually work. Travel managers should keep in mind that making their company travel policies onerous or otherwise inconvenient can drive their employees to look elsewhere, outside of the program, for booking corporate travel.
What business travelers want are travel platforms and content options that help them save time. They also want options that give them a fighting chance of arriving at their destination well-rested and ready to tackle their work. The more relaxed, and refreshed they are, the more likely they will be to put forth their best work. After all, who can concentrate or appear confident when they spent an overnight flight next to a crying baby?
2. What business travelers want: to use mobile technology for booking.
According to Phocuswright more than a third (37%) of managed business travelers booked new airline reservations on their mobile device, and 28% modified airline reservations. New mobile hotel bookings were even higher, with more than half (54%) booking new reservations and a bit more than a quarter (27%) modifying reservations.
Mobile access enables employees the ability to check flights, hotel accommodations and ground transportation options wherever and whenever, and to quickly compare prices, locations, and amenities. When employees are on the road, they don’t necessarily have the time or patience to navigate a full desktop browser experience -especially ones that are non-responsive and hard to navigate on a smart device. Travelers want a user-friendly mobile app that gives them more options to search and book the content they want. Online booking solutions like Deem Work Fource, offer a convenient mobile app that business travelers can download straight to their smartphones, allowing them to make changes to their trip.
3. The average business traveler wants an online booking platform that remembers who they are.
Recent studies show that corporate travelers want the ultimate itinerary – for them. People expect personalization when it comes to the technology they use. Corporate travelers want online booking platforms to remember their personal preferences, their needs, and their goals for travel. Some of the biggest reasons that business travelers will abandon a brand or online booking tool: the platform doesn’t remember their preferred seating, their favorite hotel or airline, loyalty accounts or emergency contact numbers. Travelers also expect their online business travel tools to retain their company policies and offer accommodations, flights, and transportation that are compliant with their company’s policies and procedures.
4. Corporate travelers want and need the assurance of safety.
Safety is another looming concern for travelers – especially in light of the recent Boeing 737 Max crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. What business ravelers want to know about, is an airline’s safety record. They want to know if their hotel is located in a safe neighborhood. They want to know their Uber or Lyft driver has a valid driver’s license and the relevant insurance. They need access to information on a country’s safety and security rating - especially when they are entering dangerous territory.
As a travel manager, you also want to ensure your employees are safe. Using the right platforms ensures you’ll have the appropriate duty of care options and can keep travel of your travelers, where ever they are in the world.
5. Business travelers want the assurance of privacy.
The ability to track and alert employees of impending disasters or other safety issues is a double-edged sword. Despite wanting to feel safe while they’re out on the road, business travelers are concerned about their privacy. The most successful travel managers will understand how to strike a balance between employees’ safety and their need and right to privacy. Putting practical privacy measures in place will also protect an employee’s sensitive data from hackers and digital thieves.
With the numerous and well publicized hacks of Marriott International and Facebook (just a few among the many data breaches in 2018), data privacy is top of mind for everyone. Travel managers need to ensure their vendor and platform security measures are PCI and SOC II compliant, that they’re following strict guidelines to protect their traveler data and to monitor their technology on a regular basis. It can be tedious work, and the advice of a technical expert might be required, but it’s well worth the effort to keep your employees data safe.
There are so many options a travel manager can take to make business travel comfortable and also compliant. The challenge is creating a satisfying experience for travelers, while remaining compliant with the company’s policies and their preferred vendors and negotiated prices.
What business travelers want is more demanding than ever, travel program complexities have increased and security issues arise every day. As you build and improve your travel program, you have many things to consider. What your business travelers wants, what your company needs and how to balance the two. As increase and travel programs become more complex, your role will expand and you need the knowledge and expertise to deliver both.
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