Nearly 86 of business travel agents polled by Travel Leaders Group in a recent survey said business travel bookings are better than or on par with this time last year. The survey says there was a 3.3 percent increase in those stating year-over-year bookings are higher.
The survey also reports a double-digit increase in the number of Travel Leaders Group business travel agents who said that 11 percent or more of their business travel airline bookings are in First or Business Class.
There is also an uptick in agents who said a majority of their business travel clients are selecting “Luxury” and “Upper Upscale” categories of hotel accommodations.
“The data in our survey represents a well-rounded look at business travelers nationwide and across our different travel agency groups. We are particularly encouraged to see continued growth in the number of business travel bookings year-over-year, ” said Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben, noting that businesses are bullish on their economic futures.
Liben noted a nearly 11 percent increase in those polled who said that more than 1-in-10 of their business travelers are booking either First or Business Class airline tickets is another indicator of economic confidence.
The results in detail:
First/Business Class vs. Coach
Two-thirds (66.8%) of survey participants said over 10 percent of their clients are flying in the front of the plane, which is an increase of 10.9 percent compared to last year. This can be attributed to a lack of available upgrades to First or Business Class due to the consolidation of airlines – meaning more clients are paying to ensure they are seated at the front of the plane. In addition, the group said business clientele increasingly includes CEOs and top-level executives requiring specialized travel planning.
When asked for the top reasons why their business travelers fly in coach, the top response was “company policy” (56.9%) followed by “cost” (35.8%) and “hoping for upgrade (1.7%).
Selecting Flights for Business Travel
Taking a closer look at corporate travel policies and business travelers’ flight selections 8.4 percent stated “lowest fare, period” while the top responses were:
A majority (68.2%) of agents reported that more than half of their clients request a hotel booking in addition to their airline reservation, while 23.4 percent stated that between 21-50 percent of their business travel clients require a hotel booking in addition to their airfare. (Last year, the percentages were 67.3% and 24.6%, respectively.)
Agents said 70.2 percent stated preference for the “Luxury” and “Upper Upscale” categories, while 25.4 percent indicate “Upscale” and “Upper Midscale” categories. (In 2013 the percentages were 63.9% and 31.8% respectively.)
A majority (55.2%) of agents reported that more than half of their clients request a car rental in addition to their airline reservation, while 30.3 percent stated that between 21-50 percent of their business travel clients require a rental car in addition to their airfare. (In 2013 the percentages were 54.7% and 32.4% respectively.)
77.7 percent of agents said “Midsize” cars were preferred while 15.6 percent indicated “Full size.” (Last year, the percentages were 78.6% and 12.2%, respectively.)
Duty of Care
When asked which types of incidents required agents to execute Duty of Care procedures for clients the top responses were: “Airline emergency,” “Civil unrest in an international country” and “Earthquake.” (In 2013, the top responses were: “Airline emergency,” “Hurricane,” and “Civil unrest in an international country.”)
Nearly 85 percent said bookings were equal to or higher than this time last year.
The survey is based on responses from 346 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents who said that 50 percent or more of their portfolio is made up of business travelers.