Economy Has Changed Business Travel Behavior, Survey Shows

Meeting planners take note: Over the last five years, business travelers — including your meeting attendees — have become “laser-focused” on value. So finds the “2013 Business Travel Survey” from Embassy Suites Hotels, the results of which were released yesterday.

Not surprisingly, the survey of 700 business travelers found that the economic climate over the last five years has changed their business trip behavior for nearly 80 percent of business travelers, who now engage in more teleconferencing (33 percent), feel more pressure to book value accommodations (29 percent) and only fly coach (25 percent) as a result of the downturn. Likewise, approximately one-third of business travelers report more restrictive corporate travel policies, and nearly 70 percent say they’ll choose “safe” travel options this year in order to avoid raising red flags with their company’s finance department.

“Face time is extremely important when it comes to growing business, but at the same time, companies need to cut costs during tough economic times, which can mean more restrictive business travel policies,” says Cynthia Good, CEO and founding editor of Little PINK Book — a daily e-notes service for professional women — and one of three business travel experts assembled by Embassy Suites to remark on its survey results. “This puts businesses and travelers in a very tough spot when it comes to maximizing business potential while minimizing costs.”

More restrictive travel policies have made business travelers astute at bargain hunting, according to Embassy Suites, which found that a great value is the most important factor when booking a hotel for nearly half of business travelers. To that end, 61 percent of business travelers say they’d follow a travel brand on social media in order to learn about travel deals.

Finally, 85 percent of business travelers say they find business travel more enjoyable today than they did five years ago, which Embassy Suites attributes to the fact that travelers have more control over their experience thanks to the proliferation of online travel reviews and social media, which have democratized business travel around customers instead of brands.

Concludes Good, “The business traveler of 2013 is more empowered and in tune with the concept of value, so they’re making smarter travel choices for their company, their clients and themselves.”

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