Skift Take

It's no surprise that business travelers hate waiting in security lines more than any other aspect of the travel experience. But the importance of booking choice to millennials and booking flexibility for Gen Xers shows how consumer booking tools have shifted how workers think about business travel.

Confusing corporate booking tools. Early morning flights. Long security lines. Crappy airport food. Delays. Expensive taxis. Slow Wi-Fi.

There are countless factors that can ruin a business trip. But what aspects of a trip actually satisfy business travelers the most?

The Global Business Travel Association teamed with American Express Global Business Travel to ask 805 frequent business travelers what factors impact their business trips and which elements cause the greatest feelings of satisfaction.

By looking at 38 variables surrounding business travel, the Traveler Satisfaction: Exploring the Generational Divide in Business Travel report shows that airport security lines are the top annoyance among business travelers regardless of their generation.

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In news that the Transportation Security Administration will love to hear, companies are urged to pay for TSA Precheck for their employees to increase satisfaction levels across the board.

“It is not surprising that overall frequent business traveler satisfaction is strongly correlated with airport security wait times,” reads the report. “This is one of the biggest hindrances to expedient travel today. It is interesting that almost half (45 percent) of frequent business travelers have TSA Precheck. This means it is something travelers consider highly valuable yet most companies do not cover the cost for TSA Precheck or Global Entry. Taking all this into consideration, companies could offer to cover the cost of TSA Pre and/or Global Entry for their employees that travel on a frequent basis.”

Dialing down further into the survey results shows some support for the conventional wisdom surrounding the differences between business travelers of various ages.

The younger you are, the more control you want over your trip, essentially. The older you are, the less you even care about dealing with the hassle surrounding your bookings.

Millennials want choice when making a booking, Generation Xers want control over their trip, and Boomers don’t really care about the booking process — they just want a smooth travel experience while staying connected with friends and family.

“Although the major themes are the same for Millennials and Gen Xers, the key variables that make up the themes are different,” the report states. “Millennial business travelers want a variety of suppliers from which you can choose to book and prefer booking travel on a third party website. Meanwhile for Gen Xers, it’s all about the ease of making changes to their travel plans. Gen Xers place a value on the ease of making changes and booking directly on a supplier’s website. Gen Xers value this over having more booking choices. Conversely booking was not an important theme for Boomers.”

Here’s a look at the four most interesting insights from the report.

Business travelers want flexibility

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Overall, four-in-five business travelers said the flexibility to plan a business trip was their most satisfying booking piece. The ability to take a taxi or private car while on the road came in second.

Traditional travel booking through a travel management company, however, lagged behind having the flexibility to plan trips. This highlights the impact that consumer online booking sites have had on corporate travel behaviors.

Millennials want choice and control

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Unsurprisingly, millennials are more satisfied when they have the choice to book from different travel companies and book through third-party sites like online travel agencies.

Satisfaction from booking with a travel management company lags behind using online tools but only slightly.

“Consider the diverse needs of business travelers when selecting preferred travel providers and offer a wide range of providers to satisfy travelers’ desire for choice,” the report urges. “Make it easier for employees to make changes to their travel plans. When negotiating or selecting preferred airline providers, consider low, or no change fees. Allow employees the ability to edit travel plans on their mobile phones or provide a telephone number they can call to access and quickly change plans.”

Gen Xers want flexibility

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The fact that completely different elements of the business travel booking process satisfy millennials and Gen Xers is surprising.

Booking through a travel management company is a more important part of the process for Gen Xers, while booking on a third-party site is more satisfying.

Boomers want free W-Fi and work-life balance

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The impact of and satisfaction with the booking process was not a significant factor for Boomers. Instead, Boomers want to get through security quickly and get free Wi-Fi during their trip.

The survey results regarding Boomers bear out the effects of technology use on business travelers.

“Being able to maintain good relationships with friends and children also influences satisfaction for Boomers,” the report concludes. “Interestingly, this theme is unique to the Boomer generation and did not resonate with Millennials or Gen Xers.”


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Tags: booking, business travel

Photo credit: Regardless of age, business travelers hate waiting in security lines the most, according to new research from GBTA. Here, flyers wait in line at the TSA checkpoint at Denver International Airport in July 2016. Andrew Sheivachman / Skift

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