Friday, April 29, 2005

Business Traveler Preferences Vary Widely Worldwide, According to American Express Business Travel Research

From Flat-Bed Airline Seats to Frequent Flyer Rewards, Survey Finds a Broad Range of Traveler Tendencies

American Express Business Travel's new Global Business Traveler Survey, officially released at the ACTE Global Conference in Vancouver, Canada, reveals that business travelers have a wide range of preferences and perspectives on topics ranging from the value of rewards programs to the components that comprise an ideal business trip. The findings come from a survey of more than 1000 business travelers in ten countries around the world.
"This study clearly shows that the preferences and expectations of global business travelers are extremely diverse," said Marcella Shinder, Global Head of Marketing at American Express Business Travel. "For any company in the business travel industry this diversity, while challenging, also makes each individual trip an opportunity to deliver the kind of outstanding customer experience that keeps business travelers happy, productive and loyal."
American Express Business Travel is keenly focused on the business traveler experience and how to deliver the best business travel experience. To create the best customer experience, American Express partners with suppliers to develop such solutions.

Business Travelers Reap Rewards

The majority of survey participants take advantage of reward programs when traveling for business. When it comes to the types of programs they utilize, 63 percent participate in frequent flyer programs with airlines, with a high of 83 percent in the U.S. and 80 percent in Canada. France has the lowest rate of participation in frequent flyer programs, at 44 percent. The most preferred types of rewards are airline tickets (67%), followed by hotel stay (52%) and car rental (36%).
To compliment these findings, American Express Business Travel previously announced a specialized offering to small and mid-sized companies in the U.S. that rewards business travelers. The double Membership Rewards(R) Points loyalty program was designed to address the biggest problem facing small- and medium-sized businesses - individual traveler compliance with a travel management program. By creating a personalized incentive that is linked to the corporate travel management program, American Express created a unique offering that benefits individual travelers and promotes overall company cost savings. American Express currently plans to roll out similar programs in other key markets around the world.

Flight Schedules, Flat-Bed Seats Bring Satisfaction

When selecting an airline, global business travelers rated flight schedules (34%) and price (30%) as the most important factor. Sixty-four percent of the Japanese felt that schedules were most important, while Germans and Canadians were the most price-sensitive travelers (44%). In China, however, the most important factor was an airline's safety record, selected by 45 percent of those interviewed. When examining the services airlines provide their customers, the largest group of respondents selected flat-bed seats as the most important feature when traveling for business. Food service and the onboard entertainment (television, movies and video games) tied for second place as the most important features. Norwegian (40%), American (27%), Canadian (26%), Mexican (28%) and Australian (34%) business travelers all highlighted flat-bed seats to be the most important feature, while the French (31%), British (31%) and Germans (26%) felt that food service was most important. The Chinese (26%) selected on-board email or Internet access as most important.

Smooth Sailing: Business Travelers Ponder the Perfect Business Trip

When asked what they would consider to be the most enjoyable part of a business trip, 27 percent of respondents identified meetings with colleagues and/or clients as most enjoyable, followed closely by 25 percent for the flight to their destination, 24 percent for their hotel stay and 23 percent who cited the return home. When evaluating the most irritating factors of traveling on business, the majority of travelers found travel delays to be the most irritating (52%), followed by poor hotel accommodations and boarding/deplaning (9%), and getting behind in office work (7%).

While on business travel, travelers occasionally have the opportunity to partake in leisure activities. Fifty-one percent of interviewees said that sightseeing was their most relaxing activity while traveling on business, followed by 28 percent who pointed to socializing with colleagues and clients and 15 percent who identified shopping as the most relaxing activity. In particular, 79 percent of Chinese business travelers found sightseeing the most relaxing thing to do while on a business trip. A high of percentage of Norwegian travelers (59%) prefer to socialize with colleagues or clients.
Overall, 47 percent of those surveyed said they always bring back gifts for family, friends and/or loved ones when returning from business trips, led by 78 percent of Chinese business travelers who said they always come home with a gift.

Hotels: In-Room Internet Access a Must

The Global Business Traveler Survey revealed that business travelers find in-room internet access the most important service they look for in a hotel. This was respectively followed by complimentary breakfast, hotel business facilities and VIP check-in/out. Internet access was most important for Americans (49%), Mexicans (48%), Chinese (48%) and Japanese (47%), while Europeans largely preferred a complimentary breakfast - Norwegians (50%), British (45%) and Germans (41%).

About the American Express Global Business Traveler Survey

Lightspeed Research conducted the survey of 1040 business travelers from ten countries on behalf of American Express Business Travel during March 2005. Business travelers were surveyed in each of the following countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, Norway and the United States. Each respondent was required to have taken at least two business trips in the past 12 months with one trip including an air component and overnight stay. Survey results will be widely distributed at the ACTE Global Conference in Vancouver, Canada, May 1-3.

About American Express Corporate Services

American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. operates one of the world's largest travel agency networks, recording $18 billion in worldwide travel sales in 2004. More information on expense management tools from Corporate Services can be found at > The American Express Company is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking.

Source: Business Editors/Travel Writers