Skift Take

Every business traveler hates delays and annoying layovers. There are pronounced regional differences in the value business travelers perceive during and after a trip, though.

When considering the most important trends in business travel, it can be difficult to distinguish between the general needs of business travelers and the preferences that emerge depending on where they’re from.

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) surveyed business travelers in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America to find how how priorities differ among travelers from various regions. GBTA, in conjunction with Sabre, polled hundreds of business travelers around the world while conducting interviews with travel managers and human resources personnel.

“When it comes to pain points and challenging aspects of business travel, travelers all around the world experience similar frustrations,” said Monica Sanchez, research director of GBTA. “When we looked at the perks, amenities and technology that improve the traveler experience, however, we began to see some differences.”

Here are three takeaways from the research.

Business Travelers Share the Same Annoyances

The top paint points for all business travelers are time spent in transit, layovers, changing a flight or train reservation during a trip, and the work environment when traveling.

Here’s a breakdown of the most difficult aspects of travel across all regions:

Most Difficult Aspects of Business Travel (% included in top 5)
Challenges Asia Pacific Europe Latin America North America
Time spent in transit 56% 62% 66% 61%
Layover 33% 47% 57% 48%
Changing a flight or train reservation during my trip 44% 42% 46% 42%
Work environment while traveling 47% 40% 41% 41%
Preparing expense report 37% 34% 39% 37%
Working away from the office 35% 29% 25% 33%
Changing a lodging reservation during my trip 39% 34% 41% 29%
Meals 33% 25% 39% 27%
Pre-travel approval/gathering travel information 27% 19% 22% 22%
Travel debrief with travel department 29% 20% 24% 20%
Flight/train booking experience 22% 19% 17% 19%
Lodging booking experience 21% 15% 21% 15%

Travel as a Perk in Latin America

Workers from Latin America are most likely to view business travel as an attractive perk, increasing their satisfaction with their job. They’re also most likely to be concerned with safety when traveling.

“Travelers outside of North America, and especially those in Latin America, were more likely to say safety tracking apps enhance the business travel experience,” said Sanchez. “Asia Pacific travelers, particularly those in China and India, are very interested in live chat capabilities for travel policy inquiries.

“More so than in any other region, Latin American business travelers say their travel experience has an enormous impact on job satisfaction as 71 percent of respondents indicate that it impacts their overall job satisfaction to a great extent. This is much higher than the share in North America (32 percent) and Europe (34 percent).”

Asia-Pacific in Action

The elements of a trip that improve the experience, however, vary wildly depending on region.

Travelers from the Asia-Pacific region tend to spend on enhanced hotel Wi-Fi, which is less of a focus for other regions. They also prefer service while on the road via chat instead of phone or email.

Travelers from Asia-Pacific believe a better business travel experience will create better results for their company.

Business travelers from most regions are overwhelmingly satisfied with their experiences but those polled from Japan were least likely to say they are satisfied or very satisfied with traveling for business, although just over half saying they’re satisfied.

“No matter the country though, or the specific perks or amenities that may better improve the traveler experience in each region, it is important for travel programs to factor this in,” said Sanchez. “While well-being initiatives can cost money, they can also represent an investment that can improve a company’s bottom line.”


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Tags: business travel, gbta

Photo credit: A woman is pictured on a train platform in Tokyo. Japanese business travelers tend to be unsatisfied with their experience. tokyoform / Flickr

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