Business Travelers Plan to Return to the Skies and Rooms, But New Trends Reveal that Better Insight into Customers is Critical for the Industry’s Success
LONDON; 26 Sept. 2002 – Business travel will likely increase over the next six months, according to an Accenture survey of more than 300 business travelers at UK-based companies.
Almost one-third (32 percent) of the survey respondents said that they expect to travel more for business between now and the end of the first quarter of 2003 than they had during the past six months. This is compared with 47 percent of respondents who said their business travel will remain at the same level and 21 percent who reported that it will drop.
Air carriers continue to be the preferred method of travel, with 42 percent of respondents choosing them as their primary mode of transportation, followed closely by 38 percent of respondents who prefer to travel by car. Only one-fifth (18 percent) of respondents said that they prefer to travel by rail.
In addition, the majority of respondents reported that their companies have placed few restrictions on travel. For example, more than half (59 percent) said their companies have not restricted reservation option changes such as business and first-class travel, and another 63 percent reported that their companies have not restricted the use of some luxury hotels.
“We’re seeing many positive indicators that business travel is rebounding and returning to the normal levels prior to the events of September 11 last year in the United States,” said Alex Christou, a partner in Accenture’s Transportation & Travel Services industry group. “However, the travel industry is undergoing a period of significant transition and redefinition, and it must understand that the business traveler is reshaping the industry, due to the number of choices of air carriers and hotels available.”
As travel picks up, respondents and their companies are evaluating travel options more carefully, and the research points to several potential shifts that might alter the outlook of business travel for several industry sectors. For example:
Twenty-four percent of respondents said they have increased their use of low-cost air carriers over the past six months, while 30 percent said their use of low-cost air carriers will increase in the next six months.
- When respondents were asked what type of accommodations they would choose, almost half (44 percent) said they plan to stay primarily at budget chain hotels, while 32 percent said they plan to stay at luxury chain hotels.
- More than one half (56 percent) of respondents said that, due to current economic conditions, their companies have increased their use of teleconferences and/or videoconferences to reduce travel and related costs.
- Location and price are the two most important factors considered when choosing hotels, selected by 89 percent and 71 percent of respondents, respectively.
Other findings of the survey include:
The majority (68 percent) of respondents said that loyalty program from airlines, hotels or a combination of both do not influence their travel decisions.
- Almost one-half (43 percent) of respondents book their travel online or by calling an airline and/or hotel directly, and more than one-third (37 percent) use an internal travel agency/department at their companies. Only 20 percent use an outside booking agency.
- Despite hotels’ rush to provide their guests with a variety of services and amenities, only 8 percent of respondents said that Internet access in hotel rooms is a deciding factor in selecting a hotel, and only 13 percent said that the availability of room service is a factor.
“In a world of increasing competition and declining profits, airlines and hotels must look at their business models, focus on getting closer to their customers and rethink the way they deliver services and generate growth,” said Christou. “The future leaders of the travel industry will ultimately be those who can strengthen customer loyalty to grow revenues.”
The survey, conducted in September 2002, entailed querying more than 300 business travelers at UK-based companies. The multiple-choice survey was conducted entirely online and has a margin of error of +/- 5%.
Accenture is the world’s leading management consulting and technology services organization. Through its network of businesses approach -- in which the company enhances its consulting and outsourcing expertise through alliances, affiliated companies and other capabilities -- Accenture delivers innovations that help clients across all industries quickly realize their visions. With approximately 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of $11.44 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2001. Its home page is www.accenture.com.