Nearly 40 percent of Travel Leaders Group’s business-focused travel agents indicated that business clients will be traveling more in 2014 than last year and nearly another 40 percent said client bookings will be the same as in 2013, according to the results of the top business travel trends survey from Travel Leaders Group.
The findings are fairly consistent with 2013 findings in a year-over-year comparison, the group said. The survey revealed that delayed flights are the top concern for business travel clients, and found that there is an ever-growing demand for access to Wi-Fi inflight and virtually everywhere else. Conducted November 11 - December 14, 2013, the business travel trends are based on responses from 424 Travel Leaders Group owners, managers and frontline travel experts throughout the United States who identified that 50 percent or more of their portfolio consists of business travel clients.
“While a very slight plurality of our agents tell us booking levels for business travel are at least on par with the start of last year, we are very encouraged that nearly as many are telling us that they’re actually seeing higher booking levels than a year ago,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben.
“Our corporate travel agents are in-tune with clients’ needs for advanced travel planning and adherence to travel policies for maximum return on their investment. Our individual business clients have the peace of mind in knowing we have their back, especially when problems arise. For example, our agents excel at reacting nimbly and quickly to deal with issues such as delayed and canceled flights – re-protecting clients by securing a seat on another flight,” Liben said.
Travel Leaders Corporate president David Holyoke expressed cautious optomism. “That’s because while many clients are showing solid growth, others are still struggling with ongoing economic concerns in their individual segments. We’re working with all of our clients to better leverage our tools and service to ultimately maximize each dollar spent.”
- Anticipated Level of Business Travel in 2014: 38.4 percent of respondents said 2014 booking levels will increase compared to last year.
- Top Business Travel Concerns: Delayed flights were the top travel concerns followed by limited airline seat availability, earning frequent flyer/loyalty points, travel costs and ease of passing through security.
- Most Valuable Services: Based on concerns about delayed flights and limited airline seat availability, it naturally follows suit that business travel agents believe that “access to an experienced agents” is critically essential for their business travel clients in the coming year, the group said. When asked for the single most valuable service business travel clients need to ensure smooth travels in 2014, the following were identified as the top three: access to an experience agent, 24-hour service and waivers and favors.
- Ancillary Fees for Business Travelers: Travel Leaders Group agents were asked, “Please choose the most frequently charged Ancillary Fees your business travel clients encounter.” Agents could select multiple answers. The top responses: Airline fees for changing flights (77.4%), Airline fees for baggage (55.0%), Airline fees for seat assignments (upgrade and/or premium seat) (52.6%),Hotel fee for Internet(18.5%), Hotel “resort” fee(11.8%), Hotel fees for parking (10.1%), Car rental fees for one-way rental drop-offs (9.0%), Airline fees for Internet(6.8%),Airline fees for food (4.5%) and Hotel fees for early check-in/late check-out (4.0%).
Other notable business travel trends cited in the survey:
- Inflight Wi-Fi: While it has only been in the past few years that Wi-Fi has been made available on flights and only on some carriers, over half (59.7%) of agents surveyed indicate Wi-Fi is either “very important” or “an absolute must have” for their business travel clients. Only 4.2 percent indicate it is “not at all important” for their clients when flying.
- Hotel Wi-Fi: When asked, “How vital is it for your business travel clients to have access to Wi-Fi in their hotel room?” more than nine out of every ten agents (95.1%) state it is either an “absolute necessity” or “very vital.” Only 1 percent indicate that Wi-Fi in their business travelers’ hotel rooms are “not all that vital.” When asked, “If your business travel clients have to pay for Internet access in their hotel room, what would you say is their limit in terms of daily cost?” the top response from Travel Leaders Group’s business travel specialists was: “Only if it is $10.99 or less per day” (37.10%), followed by “$11 - $15 per day” (29.1%).