“Company policy” now has almost as much influence as “cost” in whether or not business travelers will be flying in the “front of the plane” according to the latest survey provided by Travel Leaders Group.
The survey notes that a majority of Travel Leaders Group’s business travel agents indicate their clients are selecting either “luxury” or “upper upscale” hotel properties and, if renting a car while on business, the overwhelmingly preferred choice is a midsized car.
In its analysis of year-over-year business travel bookings, 80.3 percent of those surveyed indicate their bookings are on par or better than last year at this time – in 2011 that figure was 83.5 percent, indicating a slight softening in the marketplace.
This data on business travel is based on responses from 269 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents who indicated that 50 percent or more of their portfolio is made up of business travelers.
These results are part of the larger 2012 Fall Travel Trends Survey conducted by Travel Leaders Group from July 30 - August 23, 2012, in which 871 travel agent experts from the flagship Travel Leaders brand, along with those affiliated with Travel Leaders Group’s Luxury Travel Network, Nexion, Results! Travel, Tzell Travel Group and Vacation.com units participated.
“We are now heading into the fourth quarter of the year and there are still some important issues looming – be it the economic situation in Europe or the upcoming elections in this country – and all of that has a domino effect within the realm of business travel. There is no question we are a global society,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben.
“That being said, it has still been a solid year for business travel, as indicated by over 80 percent of our business travel agents stating that their corporate travel bookings are equal to or higher than last year. It is also apparent by our survey findings that a significant segment of business travelers are opting for higher-end hotel stays while they are on the road. That is good for both our business and the overall economy. ”
First/Business Class vs. Coach: When asked “For your 2012 year-to-date business travel air bookings, what percentage of clients are purchasing ‘front of the cabin’?” it appears the numbers have softened slightly compared to when Travel Leaders agents were asked this question heading into 2012. However, the sample was broadened to include agents from throughout more of the Travel Leaders Group enterprise; the earlier sample consisted solely of agents who identified as Travel Leaders franchisees. 11 percent or more of bookings in First/Business Class; 51.3 percent, 1-10 percent of bookings in First/Business Class: 44.6 percent. When asked for the top reasons why their business travelers fly in coach, the top response was “cost” (50.6%) followed by “company policy” (44.3%).
Hotel Bookings for Business Travel: When asked “What percentage of your business travel clients add a hotel reservation to their travel itinerary?” a majority (63.8%) of Travel Leaders Group agents report that more than half of their clients request a hotel booking in addition to their airline reservation; while 28.4% state that between 20-50% of their business travel clients require a hotel booking in addition to their airfare.
When asked “Which hotel category would you say the majority of your business travel clients book?” 55.0 percent of Travel Leaders Group agents state the “Luxury” and “Upper Upscale” categories, while 39.3 percent indicate “Upscale” and “Upper Midscale” categories.
Car Rentals for Business Travel Leaders: When asked “What percentage of your business travel clients add a car rental reservation to their travel itinerary?” a majority (55.1%) of Travel Leaders Group agents report that more than half of their clients request a car rental in addition to their airline reservation; while 33.1 percent state that between 20-50 percent of their business travel clients require a rental car in addition to their airfare.
When asked “Which rental car category would you say the majority of your business travel clients book? 79.2 percent of Travel Leaders Group agents say “Midsize,” while 14.4 percent indicate “Full size.''
Year-Over-Year Comparable Business Travel Bookings: When asked “Comparing your overall 2012 business travel bookings so far to your 2011 business travel bookings at this time last year, which is true?” the responses were as follows: Higher 55.0 percent, even 25.3 percent and; lower 19.7 precut In the fall of 2011 the the figures were 60.0, 23.5 and 16.5 percent.