Skift Take

Travelers and their travel managers don't always agree on the most important preferences when flying. But most travel managers, for some reason, don't use formal tools to receive traveler feedback. Perhaps the gaps could be narrowed with more engagement between travel managers and travelers.

At times, the wants and needs of corporate travel managers don’t align with those of the travelers they are supposed to serve.

A new survey conducted by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) asked more than 175 corporate travel managers and buyers about what they think their customers want when it comes to flying.

The results show a stark contrast with what business travelers actually want when they travel. But there are also areas of alignment, particularly surrounding the in-flight experience and various travel-related hassles.

Here are four takeaways from the report.

Business travelers want Wi-FI and free bags

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It’s no surprise that business travelers are more concerned with amenities and comfort when they fly. Wi-Fi and power outlets, along with free baggage and comfortable airplane seats, are their top travel preferences.

Travel managers also prefer free bags.

“Topping the list for travel managers is the baggage allowance,” reads the report. “Again, this is likely to be for cost-based reasons, since it is one of those frustrating ancillary expenses that can quickly add up, and aren’t necessarily captured in expense reporting.”

Business travelers care least about affordable airfare and cabin configuration

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To the likely chagrin of travel managers, discount airfares aren’t a preference for business travelers. They instead care about the destination they’re visiting, their experience during their trip, and frequent flyer rewards.

“These results suggest a disconnect between what travel managers say is important to them in selecting a preferred or mandated carrier, and what they believe to be important to their travelers,” posits the report. “So, on the surface of it, the global travel management community appears to be a long way from true traveller centricity.”

Painless flights and easy booking lead to traveler feedback

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What factors actually get business travelers to submit feedback to their travel managers? Flight delays, booking hassles, and problems with their in-flight experience top the list.

Most travel managers don’t have formal tools to collect traveler feedback

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Stunningly, more than half of travel managers polled don’t have formal tools to collect feedback from their travelers. The report, however, says that informal methods of collecting feedback can still be valuable for travel managers.

“But, from talking directly to travel managers, it should be noted that a lack of formal feedback mechanisms does not necessarily equate to a lack of robust feedback,” concludes the report. “As one travel manager at a U.S.-based financial services firm said: ‘I treat a lot of feedback tools with caution. A lot of people only respond if they’ve just had an unusually terrible experience or an unusually great experience, so you rarely hear from the silent majority. I find it better to have lots of conversations with lots of travellers, and ask lots of open- ended questions.'”

The report also goes onto suggest that a corporate loyalty program can help travel managers collect stronger data on their travelers’ preferences.


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Tags: business travel, travel managers

Photo credit: Free baggage allowances are one of the top preferences for business travelers, according to a new survey of travel managers from ACTE. Here, a businesswoman waits for her luggage at Mineta San Jose International Airport. hjl / Flickr

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