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At the same time that many companies are implementing more traveler-friendly policies in order to make life better for their business travelers, fear and anxiety caused by politics and safety issues may be undercutting those gains.

Events over the last six months have caused business travelers to become more concerned with safety on the road and their overall quality of life when traveling, according to new research from the Association for Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) and American Express Global Business Travel.

ACTE polled 239 travel buyers in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa during the first three weeks of March. Compared to the last time this survey was conducted in September 2016, more travelers are worried about their safety when they are in destinations and potential disruptions while in the air.

“Geopolitical events are happening faster, and their impact on travel is more important,” said Greeley Koch, executive director and CEO of ACTE. “Travel managers used to wake up and think about how many transactions they’d have to handle, now they’re looking at the headlines.”

Traveler interest in using ground transportation apps has continued to surge, with more than half of those polled saying interest in app-based ground transportation has grown.

So business travelers are more concerned about their safety, but are increasingly using sharing economy apps and services that are often less regulated than their traditional counterparts.

“There is a friction there,” said Evan Konwiser, vice president of digital traveler at American Express GBT. “We want to be more permissive, but new providers create [safety and security] problems.”

Here are four takeaways from the report.

Business Travelers Are Concerned About Their Quality of Life

March 2017 Sept 2016
Increased number of inquiries from travelers (in previous 3 months) Stayed same Decreased inquiries / no inquiries Increased interest
Add leisure to a business trip 43% 46% 11% 42%
Work-life balance 31% 39% 31% 48%
Take a family member 19% 61% 21% 28%
Flexibility to explore 20% 52% 28% n/a

Business travel stress is leading more travelers to extend their trips with a leisure component. Travelers are also increasingly concerned with their work-life balance due to the stress of taking a business trip.

“The stress factor is causing ‘bleisure’ to increase,” said Koch. “For companies, it also affects retention, motivation, and recruiting.”

Travelers Are Telling Travel Buyers About their Concerns

New / heightened traveler concerns Same level of traveler concerns Reduced / no traveler concerns
Personal Safety 56% 37% 6%
Air travel experience 44% 53% 4%
Travel to and from the USA 54% 38% 9%

More than half of the travel buyers polled said that over the past three months, travelers have become increasingly worried about their personal safety and travel to and from the U.S.

In September 2016, 65 percent of buyers reported increased volume of queries from travelers about their safety concerns.

Travel Policy Is Slow To Change

We have introduced We will introduce next 1-2 years Total introducing We have introduced (2016) We will introduce next 1-2 years (2016)
Policy and insurance for ‘bleisure’ 17% 3% 20% 10% 4%
Non-traditional hotel bookings 17% 4% 21% 10% 6%
Unique ‘perks’ 30% 4% 34% 33% n/a

Not every company is being permissive with respect to travel policy, however. Things like non-traditional hotel bookings or a bleisure policy are being adopted, but not widely.

Buyers See Increased Ridesharing Usage

Decreased usage last six months Increased usage last six months
App-based ground transportation 3% 56%
Ride-share services 6% 50%
Premium black car 38% 6%
Traditional car hire 28% 10%
Traditional network airline 11% 22%
Low-cost carriers 10% 29%
Basic economy fares airline 20% 23%
High-speed rail 6% 22%
Traditional business hotel 9% 26%
Sharing economy lodging 9% 25%

Source: ACTE and American Express GBT

Traditional car services are losing support from business travelers, while ridesharing services are on the rise. Sharing economy lodging has also surged, with 25 percent of managers reporting increased use.

A similar number of buyers are seeing basic economy airfares both increase and decrease, showing that some organizations have moved away from basic economy fares while others have embraced them.

Read the full report below:

Download (DOCX, 256KB)


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Tags: business travel, sharing economy

Photo credit: Business travelers are stressed out about world events affecting them when traveling. Travelers wait in a security line at Chicago O'Hare International Airport in January 2016. Teresa Crawford / Associated Press

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