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
ATLANTA; Sept. 18, 2002 – Business travel will likely increase over the next six months, according to an Accenture survey of more than 950 business travelers at US-based companies.
More than one third (35 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 40 percent of respondents who said their business travel will remain at the same level and 25 percent reporting it will drop. And air carriers continue to be the preferred method of travel with almost three-quarters (74 percent) choosing this as their primary mode of transportation.
In addition, the majority of respondents reported that their companies had placed few restrictions on travel. For instance, more than three-quarters (79 percent) said their companies have not restricted reservation option changes such as business and first-class travel, and another 83 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 September 11 last year,” said Julian Sparkes, 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 for 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 instance:
Thirteen percent of respondents say they have increased their use of low-cost air carriers over the past six months, while 17 percent say 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, more than half (57 percent) of respondents said they plan to stay primarily at mid-range hotels, while 16 percent plan to stay at luxury chain hotels
- Nearly one half (48 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 81 percent and 69 percent of respondents, respectively.
The study also highlighted the importance of airlines and hotels interacting effectively with their customers. The findings revealed that:
The majority (68 percent) of respondents said that loyalty program from airlines, hotels or a combination of both influence their travel decisions.
- More than one-half (54 percent) of respondents book their travel online or by calling an airline and/or hotel directly, and more than one-quarter (27 percent) use an internal travel agency/department at their companies. Only 19 percent use an outside booking agency.
- Despite hotels’ rush to provide its guests with a variety of services and amenities, only 17 percent of respondents said that Internet access in hotel rooms is a deciding factor in selecting a hotel, and only 5 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 and rethink the way they deliver services and generate growth,” said Sparkes. “The future leaders of the travel industry will ultimately be those who can strengthen customer loyalty to grow revenues.”
The survey, conducted in August 2002, entailed querying more than 950 business travelers at US-based companies. The multiple-choice survey was conducted entirely online and has a margin of error of +/- 3%.
Accenture is the world’s leading management consulting and technology services organisation. 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 realise their visions. With approximately 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of US $11.44 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2001. Its home page is www.accenture.com.