Business Travel

How U.S. and UK Travelers Differ When on the Company Dime

  • Skift Take
    Business travelers from the U.S. are more likely to disregard travel policy and do whatever they want. UK travelers, though, are actually more adventurous when it comes to choosing where they want to stay on any particular trip.

    Getting business travelers to follow their company’s travel policy is an ongoing challenge. Strict policies don’t work, and many lenient programs simply encourage more bad behavior.

    This dynamic also extends across the Atlantic, according to new data from American Express Global Business Travel on business travel booking behavior.

    American Express Global Business Travel and research firm GfK polled 825 business travelers from the U.S. and UK on their habits and experiences planning business trips.

    So who behaves the worst when it comes to following business travel policies? Well, the rowdy Americans, of course. More than two-in-three polled, 68 percent, said they don’t use or don’t know about the travel management company or corporate agency they are supposed to use; 42 percent of UK travelers said the same.

    UK travelers are more likely to receive assistance when arranging business travel even though fewer UK travelers have a travel management company at their disposal. In other words, travelers based in the UK are more likely to follow the rules even if fewer of them are supported by an agency or travel management company.

    “Today’s business traveler is independent and entrepreneurial, and expects the same flexibility and efficiency for business travel that they experience when booking for themselves,” said Wes Bergstrom, vice president of hotel value and revenue management at American Express Global Business Travel. “Also important to travelers, especially when booking accommodations, is trustworthiness. Business travelers want hotel properties that they know and trust, that can offer significant value at reasonable price points. Travel managers are the conduit to the best possible hotel booking experience, but they need all available content so they can determine what best addresses the nuanced needs of their travelers.”

    Breaking down how business travelers book, it’s clear that U.S. workers are more likely to book using online booking sites on their computers.

    Hotel Booking Tools Used Outside TMC (all that apply)
    U.S. UK
    Website on PC 79% 57%
    Mobile/Tablet Web 24% 38%
    Mobile App 23% 28%
    Calling the hotel 20% 27%

    Source: American Express Global Business Travel

    There are a few other distinctions present in the data, as well. Nearly half, 48 percent, of U.S. travelers book their transportation before their hotel, compared to 38 percent of UK travelers.

    The hotel buying decision is based on location instead of price or amenities in most cases; 57 percent of UK and 40 percent of U.S. travelers first visit Google Maps when beginning their search for a hotel.

    “Both U.S. and UK travelers often kick off their hotel search process using Google Maps, instead of using a travel program resource,” states the report. “A majority of U.S. and British business travelers express a desire to stay at branded hotel chains over independent, boutique hotels.”

    Finally, UK travelers are way more adventurous than their U.S. counterparts when it comes to selecting their accommodations.

    Lodging Choice Always or Most of the Time
    U.S. UK
    Full-Service Hotel 49% 66%
    Select-Service Hotel 48% 62%
    Extended Stay or Corporate Apartment 4% 34%
    Homeshare 4% 28%

    Source: American Express Business Travel

    Extended stay properties and homeshares are legitimately popular with UK travelers, it seems, which adoption lagged among those polled in the U.S. Despite the reluctance of U.S. travelers to follow the rules, they are also more conservative when it comes to choosing their accommodations while traveling for business.

    Photo Credit: Travelers in London. Garry Knight / Flickr
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