NEW YORK; Oct 11, 2005 - Technology has become a large part of many business travelers’ experience, according to results of a recent Accenture survey.
The semi-annual survey found that almost three-quarters (74 percent) of the more than 500 U.S. business travelers queried said they book trips online, up from 61 percent in the 2004 survey and 57 percent in the 2003 survey. Additionally, the vast majority (90 percent) of respondents said they use the Internet to research flight times and availability, and two-thirds (65 percent) check in online.
This use of technology continues at the airport, with 89 percent of business travelers reporting they use self-service kiosks there to check in and get boarding passes.
"Consumers today go online to arrange travel the same way they do to bank, shop and chat with friends," said Paul Chiu, partner in Accenture’s Transportation & Travel Services practice. "The smartest companies in the travel industry will make meeting their customers’ demands for online services a top priority not only to satisfy their guests but to help cut operating costs and improve efficiency."
The survey also found that almost all (95 percent) of the respondents expect to restrict their travel to domestic destinations during the next six months. The three most popular destinations cited are Chicago, New York and Washington, DC, selected by 32 percent, 26 percent and 21 percent of respondents, respectively.
As Accenture’s previous surveys have shown, cost is almost always a concern for respondents, and nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of respondents in the most recent survey said they expect their use of low-cost air carriers to remain the same or increase in the next six months. Slightly more (76 percent) said they would use these carriers more often if the carriers had more flights into main airports. Even so, 82 percent of respondents reported having used major carriers up from 72 percent in last year’s survey.
Perhaps with an eye on costs, more business travelers are booking ahead: 50 percent of respondents in this survey said they make arrangements more than 14 days in advance, compared with 46 percent of respondents in the previous survey in February.
In terms of business travelers’ experiences in hotels, 30 percent said their preferred hotel does not recognize them as frequent customers, 15 percent reported their preferred hotel recognizes them but does not offer special services and 37 percent said their preferred hotel recognizes them and some of their basic preferences.
"Hotels need to tap into their customer information and use it to gain insight into guest preferences and trends as well as ways to create strong loyalty among their most profitable customers, which oftentimes is the business traveler," said Chiu.
Other key findings of the survey:
- Price trumps location for hotels. In a change from Accenture’s last survey, respondents reported that price - not location - is the top influencer in their choice of hotel, followed by proximity to business activity, service from staff, and brand or reputation of the hotel.
- Maintenance-related delays still a problem. More than half (60 percent) of respondents said they have experienced maintenance-related travel delays or cancellations in the past six months - a significant increase from 48 percent in 2004.
- Mid-range hotels still popular. While 2004 saw an increase in the number of business travelers staying in budget chain hotels, 84 percent of this year’s respondents reported using mid-range chains, up from 72 percent last year.
The Web-based survey of 530 U.S. business travelers who traveled more than 300 miles in the last six months was fielded in August 2005.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills, and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With more than 123,000 people in 48 countries, the company generated net revenues of US $15.55 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2005. Its home page is www.accenture.com.