Business Travelers Cite ‘Value’ When Selecting a Hotel as More Important Attribute then ‘Hotel Bran

YPBR Survey Shows | 2005 National Business Travel Monitor

Demand for business travel services is recovering slowly, although there are some preliminary signs this segment of the market is poised for growth in the year ahead according to the recently-released Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell 2005 National Business Travel Monitor(TM). Of the estimated 58% of adults who took at least one overnight trip of more than 75 miles from home last year, an estimated one out of three (33%) took at least one business trip, roughly the same percentage as last year.
Consistent with the results observed in 2004, the highest incidence of travel for business continues to be to attend an association meeting (53%), followed by individual business travel (43%) and travel to attend a corporate meeting (29%). Significant declines were observed in the average number of international business trips and extended business trips (those taken for five or more contiguous nights). On a more optimistic note, fully 42% of active business travelers expect to take more business trips in the year ahead (versus 24% who expect to take fewer). This expectation is likely to convert into significant growth in demand for all business travel services including air transportation, lodging and car rentals. Among business travelers who indicated they were planning fewer business trips in the year ahead, the most frequently-cited reason why was a “cut back on my need to travel for business.” This is consistent with a sentiment now expressed by one-third of business travelers who assert they are attempting to use technology as a surrogate for face-to-face communications, thereby reducing their need to travel on business.

Although the lodging industry continues to build “big boxes,” business travelers increasingly prefer hotels with less than 300 guest rooms (74%, up significantly from 67% last year). Business travelers also express growing interest in non-chain affiliated hotels (14%, up from 10% last year), presumably as an expression of their personal lifestyles and the growing belief that hotel size and quality of service are inversely related. Specifically, only 51% of business travelers feel “quality of service in hotels and motels is improving,” down significantly from the 58% who agreed with this statement last year.

Four out of ten business travelers state they try to earn airline miles whenever they travel on business (fully 30% do when they purchase goods and services other than travel), and they are most likely to redeem these “currencies” to take a vacation.

When it comes to hotel selection, “value” weighs in as king (after the predicable influence of “location” and “previous experience with the hotel), with fully 86% of business travelers citing this attribute as important (up from 79% last year). The hotel brand name is cited as influential by just over half (52%) of business travelers, down from 64% last year.

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For business travelers who are frequent flyers there is, not surprisingly, growing interest in some perennial favorites: ample leg room (up to 88% from 83% last year) and extra overhead/on-board storage capacity for full-fare customers (up to 63% from 55% last year). In-flight Internet access is of interest to 36% of all business travelers, up from 27% last year. Only 23% of business travelers feel that cell phone usage should be permitted in flight, and fully seven out of ten (68%) agree that if airlines permit in-flight cell phone usage separate “talk” and “no talk” seating sections should be designated as well.

Contrary to the trend observed during the past few years, a significantly higher percentage of business travelers report using the services of a travel agent (32%, up from 25%). This is presumably a function of growing suspicion about the integrity of pricing for travel services across the multiple channels of distribution, and extent to which business travelers are willing to invest the time required to “shop” for the best prices on their own.

Almost seven out of ten (68%) of business travelers used the Internet or an online service to plan some aspect of a business trip last year, and 54% actually booked a reservation online. The highest incidence of both planning and booking online is reported by the most affluent business travelers (those with an annual household income over $100,000 per year).

And life on the road continues to be a challenge for many business travelers: 41% report they don’t get enough sleep, 35% eat too much, 23% feel stressed out, and 18% get lonely.

The Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell/Yankelovich Partners 2005 National Business Travel Monitor is a nationally-projectable survey of the travel habits, preferences and intentions of 1,200 active (U.S.) business travelers, now in its tenth year.

Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell is America’s leading marketing, advertising and public relations firm specializing in serving travel and leisure-industry clients. Headquartered in Orlando, Florida, the agency maintains service office across the United States and Europe. www.ypbr.com.
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