Constant Connectivity, Mobile Applications, and Digital Wallets Part of “Technological Transformation” Changing the Face of Business Travel, According to First-Ever Global Business Traveler Sentiment Index™
Mobile technologies – including Wi-Fi, travel apps and digital wallets – are transforming business travelers’ experience around the globe.
That’s according to the first-ever GBTA Global Business Traveler Sentiment Index™, research from the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in partnership with American Express.
“A massive technological transformation is changing the face of business travel,” said Joseph Bates, Vice President, GBTA Foundation. “At the heart of this radical disruption is Wi-Fi, which has become the indispensible technology for travelers. Wi-Fi and mobile technologies allow travelers to stay connected whether in their hotel rooms, at the airport, or at 30,000 feet. This transformation will only accelerate, and business travelers will demand always-on connectivity and mobile applications that allow them to stay in touch 24/7.”
“The Business Traveler Sentiment Index provides a snapshot of the attitudes and experiences of business travelers about what is working and what isn’t when it comes to travel,” said Susan Chapman-Hughes, senior vice president, American Express Global Corporate Payments. “This will help travel providers address areas of concern and help attract and retain loyalty from their customers.”
The index makes four key findings:
1. Technology continues to transform the business travel experience.
2. Despite overall satisfaction with travel, a number pain points have emerged, causing deep frustration among business travelers – such as getting through security and high airline fees.
3. Travelers are optimistic about the health of their industry, though less hopeful about the overall state of their country’s economy.
4. The level of satisfaction in business travel varies widely by country. Business travelers from Mexico are the most satisfied, while travelers from Japan are the least satisfied, among countries surveyed.
As employees travel for business, they need to stay connected – meaning mobile devices and applications play a more important role than ever. Travelers, across the board, believe that Wi-Fi is “vital to their work productivity” – Mexico (90 percent); Brazil (87 percent); Canada (83 percent); United States (81 percent); United Kingdom (80 percent); Australia (75 percent); Germany (70 percent) and Japan (52 percent).
Additionally, business travelers, while generally satisfied with their trip experience, encounter several “pain points” that cause ongoing frustration, including airline delays, trouble getting through airport security, high airline fees and lack of Wi-Fi.
Travelers remain concerned about the health of the overall economy, but tend to be much more optimistic about their industry. At least half of travelers from Mexico (65 percent), the U.S. (54 percent), the UK (52 percent) and Canada (50 percent) report that the overall health of their industry is excellent.
Finally, major differences in Business Traveler Sentiment emerged on a country-by-country basis. Business travelers from Mexico, for instance, score higher than average across every Index component. Meanwhile, travelers in the United States, Australia and the UK all score just above average on overall business travel sentiment, while those from Germany, Brazil and Canada score just below average. Japanese business travelers are the least satisfied across all Index components, except social media experience.
The GBTA Business Traveler Sentiment Index™, in partner¬ship with American Express, was fielded March 17 to April 6, 2015, to business travelers within Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the UK and the U.S. through an online research panel.
Overall, 3,851 respondents qualified for the study (their pri¬mary residence is located in one of the eight countries, they are employed part- or full-time, and they have taken four or more business trips in the prior 12 months).
Major findings of the report follow:
Finding 1: Technology has changed the face of business travel
The vast majority of travelers in all countries, except Japan and Germany, believe access to technology allows them to keep up with their other work demands when traveling (about 75 percent or more on average). In addition, with the exception of Japan (40 percent), about six out of 10 travelers in each country agree they have all the necessary resources to be productive while on the road.
Travelers believe that Wi-Fi is vital to the work productivity across the board – Mexico (90 percent); Brazil (87 percent); Canada (83 percent); United States (81 percent); United Kingdom (80 percent); Australia (75 percent); Germany (70 percent) and Japan (52 percent).
A majority of travelers in most countries believe that mobile applications (provided by travel suppliers, event organizers or travel destinations) have enhanced their overall business travel experience. In particular travelers in Australia (57 percent), the U.S. (55 percent), UK (55 percent) and Canada (53 percent) “agree” or “strongly agree” with this statement.
Submitting paper receipts remains the predominant method of validating expenses, but travelers appreciate the ability to use multiple mechanisms to submitting receipts— paper receipts, taking images of receipts using a photocopier or scanner, and taking photos of receipts using a mobile device. Out of all the countries, the U.S. is the one country that relies on paper receipts the least (52 percent). Conversely, in Japan and Brazil, business travelers primarily rely on paper receipts (88 percent and 78 percent, respectively) and also give the lowest satisfaction ratings.
Increasingly, travelers are open to new technologies – such as digital wallets – that allow them to keep track of payments and expenses via their mobile devices. Based on their high level of interest, this functionality is most likely to be successful with Mexican (74 percent) and Brazilian (64 percent) travelers, compared to travelers from other countries.
Social media use for business travel is more widespread among younger travelers (ages 18 to 34) than all other age groups, as well as female travelers compared to male travelers.
Interest in using sharing-economy transportation services is relatively low among all travelers – only 20 percent of business travelers express interest in using these services more. However, younger travelers in all countries are more likely than older travelers to increase use of these services.
Finding 2: Despite overall satisfaction with travel, a number pain points have emerged, causing deep frustration for business travelers
“While most travelers are significantly satisfied with their trip experience, a few areas have emerged as significant pain points,” said Bates. “This includes airline fees, getting through security, ensuring convenient flight schedules, rewards points that don’t expire and having adequate Wi-Fi connectivity.”
Travel Satisfaction — The vast majority of travelers are highly satisfied with their experiences—Mexico (81 percent) ranks at the top of the list, followed closely by the UK (75 percent), Canada, the U.S. and Australia (73 percent each). By comparison, Brazil (66 percent) and Germany (64 percent) gave more moderate ratings, and Japan gave the lowest ratings (49 percent).
Convenient Flight Schedules – Convenient flight schedules is the top consideration overall for travelers when booking a flight, and it is the most important to travelers in Japan (42 percent), the UK (40 percent) and Germany (38 percent).
Getting Through Security – Getting through security at the airport is the most painful process for travelers, regardless of country. It is of particular concern for travelers from Japan and Germany where only 39 percent of German travelers and 36 percent of Japanese say they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the security process at the airport.
No Baggage Check Fees – No baggage check fees are significantly more important to travelers in the U.S. (41 percent) and Canada (36 percent) than all other countries.
Finding 3: Travelers are optimistic about the health of their industry, though less hopeful about the overall state of their country’s economy
When asked about the health of the economy – with the exception of Mexico (67 percent) – a minority of business travelers in other countries believe the overall health of their economy is excellent (35 percent or less “agree” or “strongly agree”). In particular, travelers from Brazil (23 percent) and Canada (22 percent) are the most pessimistic.
On the other hand, travelers tend to be more optimistic about the health of their industry than their country’s economy. More specifically, at least half of travelers from Mexico (65 percent), the U.S. (54 percent), the UK (52 percent) and Canada (50 percent) feel the overall health of their industry is excellent, compared to less than half of travelers from Australia (46 percent), Germany (43 percent) Brazil (41 percent), and Japan (36 percent).
In addition, travelers are fairly confident in the financial performance of their companies. When asked whether their company is in excellent financial shape, a majority of travelers globally agree (55 percent or higher); however, only 47 percent of Brazilian travelers and 39 percent of Japanese travelers and believe this to be the case.
Similarly, a majority of travelers across countries (about 60 percent or more on average), except Japanese travelers (41 percent), “agree” or “strongly agree” their company’s management feels that business travel is very important to the overall financial performance of their company.
Finding 4: The level of satisfaction in business travel varies widely by country.
Safety — Among the encouraging safety findings, travelers from Australia (73 percent) and Mexico (71 percent) are the most likely to feel business travel overall is very safe, followed by Canada, the UK and the U.S. (66 percent, 64 percent and 63 percent, respectively). Conversely, fewer travelers from Brazil, Germany and Japan feel the same level of safety when it comes to business travel (53 percent, 44 percent and 35 percent, respectively).
Location Technology – Location technologies like GPS navigational tools can aid travelers when traveling for business, in particular locating nearby services (e.g., stores, restaurants, service providers, etc.). Travelers globally expressed high interest in these tools. Interest is highest among travelers in Mexico (82 percent), Brazil (74 percent) and the U.S. (70 percent), compared to travelers in the other surveyed countries. Among travelers that gave a neutral or positive response, in general, they are most interested in using GPS to help locate restaurants, meeting venues, lodging and airports.
Social Media – Business travelers in Mexico and Brazil, the two Latin American countries included in this study, have had more success than travelers from other countries leveraging social media to connect with friends and colleagues when traveling for work, and finding reviews about suppliers.