Most people associate travel with sunshine, memorable holidays, relaxation and time with their family, but for the community of business travellers scattered across the globe, it’s an altogether different experience.
Business travel can be gruelling. A dash to the airport and a quickly written presentation on the plane, followed by a taxi to the hotel or meeting, sandwiches at the conference table for lunch, then finally returning home long after the kids have gone to bed.
To add to this, a survey by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) found that over the last two years, companies are spending less money on staff upgrades for flights or hotel rooms.
Despite advances in web conferencing, many meetings still take place in person and journeys can be long, particularly when looking at international travel to Asian and Latin American markets. According to tClara, a company dedicated to deliver high-value analyses of corporate travel data, the top 5% of business travellers spend an average of 214 hours on an aeroplane every year. Almost two thirds (65%) of this travel takes place during personal time in the evenings and weekends. This all means that some travellers are away from home for around 2.5 months a year, spending more time traveling for business than on paid annual leave.
It can be of no surprise then, to learn that ‘travel friction’, the wear and tear of regular business travel on employees, has an impact on motivation, morale and employee engagement.
The Airport Lounge as a Sanctuary
That’s why we at Priority Pass recently undertook research to shed new light on the attitudes and demands of frequent flyers. Our research found that six out of ten (59%) frequent business flyers consider access to a premium airport lounge to be an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ factor when selecting an airport, with 40% admitting to going straight to the lounge and avoiding the shops altogether. This corresponded with earlier Priority Pass research findings that three-quarters of frequent business travellers (73%) choose not to stay in 4 or 5 star hotels, but instead look to enhance their trips with other benefits such as concierge services, something that nearly half (46%) see as being essential or nice to have.
The message from frequent business travellers is clear. A place of sanctuary and a rare moment of tranquillity in a peaceful and convenient environment is increasingly important. More important in fact than the hotel or room waiting for the flyer upon arrival. Many are indeed taking note of this and are exploring different ways of making the travel experience smoother in order to ease traveller burnout and the loss of productivity many employees experience. And the good news is that some good ground is clearly being made. Today, over half (51%) of frequent business flyers actively enjoy the airport experience, a high percentage when you consider the fact that the business flyer is traveling for work purposes and does not have the relaxation of a typical leisure trip to look forward to on arrival.
Life on the Road
Reducing travel burnout is of course wider than the lounge itself. Digital technology is also helping to reduce this friction caused by business travel. Half of European travellers (50%) believe that digital boarding passes and e-tickets make the airport experience much easier, with 41% of frequent business travellers using airport mobile apps. Today’s business travellers are embracing digital technologies thanks to their ability to reduce the stress of travel. Digital tickets, digital membership cards for airport lounges, spas and restaurants and apps that make it easy to look-up destinations all help to provide a more seamless and personalised experience at airports.
I believe that we are today witnessing a turning of the tide, with an increasing number of organisations starting to recognise the value that can be gained if the experience of flying for business is seamless and is supportive of work. As international travel for work becomes more common than ever before, many are starting to realise that it is more than just a perk to allow flyers to arrive refreshed, relaxed and ready to do business. It makes sound commercial sense.
This post was written by Stephen Simpson, Global Marketing Director, Priority Pass. Priority Pass is exhibiting at the Business Travel Show next month - 22-23 February 2017 at Olympia London and is looking forward to discussing business travel trends and how you can support your business travellers at stand B422.Buyers can register for a free visitor pass at www.businesstravelshow.com.