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Wednesday, 24 November, 2010, 14 : 00 PM [IST]

Business travellers anticipate more trips in 2011: Deloitte

Business travellers are anticipating an increase in corporate travel for 2011 -- a welcomed boost in customer demand for the hospitality and travel sectors -- according to a new survey from Deloitte.

The survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an independent research company from September 10-14, 2010. The survey polled a nationally representative sample of 1,001 business travellers and has a margin of error of +/- three percentage points.

As per the survey, by the end of 2011, 80 per cent of business travellers surveyed predict that they will take more or same number of business trips than they did in 2010, with a similar number (79 per cent) of respondents indicating that they will also spend more or the same. When asked how their 2010 travel levels would net out, majority of these business travel survey respondents (71 per cent) said they anticipated taking more or the same number of business trips. Only 29 per cent of business travellers expected less travel in 2010.

“The travel industry was not immune to economic slowdown, but the confidence demonstrated by business travellers who responded to our survey suggests a brighter outlook for the industry as a whole,” says Adam Weissenberg, Vice Chairman and Tourism, Hospitality and Leisure Sector Leader, Deloitte LLP.

Travel Expenses Closely Watched
Due to the recession, 72 per cent of survey respondents had monitored their business travel expenses in various ways this year. In particular, business travellers said they had cut back on overall travel costs (37 per cent), reduced the duration of their trips (33 per cent), or spent less on food/restaurants (32 per cent). More than one in five (21 per cent) booked less expensive hotel rooms.

Additionally, nearly three out of five, 59 per cent, of respondents whose companies had corporate travel policies felt the guidelines were now more strictly enforced. Among the top five guidelines noted by respondents, pre-trip approval for business travel (50 per cent) was the top company guideline mentioned. Among guidelines related to hotels, 42 per cent of business travellers said their company guidelines currently covered booking accommodations in advance, and 32 per cent said the guidelines gave dollar spending limits for accommodations.

Amenities and Technology Key Differentiators
The Deloitte survey found that the overall hotel experience is important to a majority of business travellers. Roughly two-thirds of respondents said they often work in their room (68 per cent) and they also expect a lot more from a hotel than only a clean room and comfortable bed (65 per cent). Further, almost four out of five respondents felt that high-speed Internet (79 per cent) and free parking (77 per cent) were important amenities to them when staying at a hotel for business. A core group of business travellers (30 per cent) felt their favourite hotel brand was important to them that they would stay at that hotel brand even if it were not in the most convenient location. This loyalty was highest among those earning USD 150,000 or more.

Weissenberg added, “Consumers are more value-conscious than ever and have been conditioned to expect more for their money after a steady diet of recession-era deals. The tipping point for hotels to differentiate their brand offering and strengthen loyalty among the post-recessionary business traveller will be providing additional complementary services and amenities tailored to their guests’ specific needs. Beyond traditional incentives, hotels are realizing the importance of developing their online presence, particularly with mobile platforms, to capitalise on a crucial touch point for brand communication.”

Roughly half, 48 per cent, of survey respondents owned a web-enabled smartphone. However, business travellers who are 18 to 29 years old, or with an income of more than USD 150,000, were far more likely to own one (84 per cent and 63 per cent, respectively). Among smartphone owners, more than one-quarter (26 per cent) have downloaded a hotel application and have used it primarily to book a room (54 per cent).

Interestingly, general-purpose travel websites did not appear to be regularly used by business travellers for booking accommodations. Only 31 per cent used such sites always/frequently, 31 per cent used them occasionally, and a larger 38 per cent stating they never use these sites for reserving a hotel room for business travel.
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