Business travelers want to fly in luxury, and stay in expensive hotels, even if their corporate travel policy doesn’t allow it.
More than two-in-three of corporate agents reported that more than 11 percent of their clients flew in business or first class this year, according to data from a recent Travel Leaders Group survey. Three years ago, just over half reported a similar rate of premium flying by corporate clients.
In addition, more than 90% of clients who flew coach this year did so because of company policy or the cost of a better ticket, not because they wanted to.
For the survey, 392 U.S. Travel Leaders Group agents who produce more than 50 percent of their sales in business travel were polled.
Overall, the vast majority of business travel agents said business is better, or at least as good, as last year.
“While we have seen some volatility in the economy since our survey was completed last month, in general our corporate clientele have expressed enough confidence in the marketplace to make continuing investments in business travel,” said new Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko. “This has clearly been a solid year for business travel through the first eight months as over 80 percent of our corporate travel specialists are seeing their business travel bookings better than or equal to the same time last year.”
Business travelers are also using sharing economy services in greater numbers than ever before. More than 40 percent of agents reported having a client interested in using an alternative supplier for accommodations.
Two-in-three agents said clients had asked about alternative ground transportation services.
“What will be very interesting to watch is how younger ‘road warriors’ shape and impact business travel, particularly with alternative sources for transportation and accommodations,” said David Holyoke, president of Travel Leaders Corporate, which is Travel Leaders Group’s business travel unit. “Already we are seeing a segment of our clientele opting for the flexibility that those services can provide. It will be incumbent upon travel management companies to help their clients incorporate those services into their corporate travel policies for financial reasons and for duty of care.”
Also interesting are the reasons why ‘duty of care’ procedures are being instituted for clients. Snowstorm, airline emergency, and car accident were the top responses.
The survey’s leisure component also found that New York City is the top booked destination for agents and cruise represent the most popular international vacation for Americans.