Deloitte business travel survey shows growth in corporate travel; split between generational preferences

Deloitte’s new business travel survey for 2012 predicts an uptick in travel, particularly among Millennial and Gen X workers. Notably, the survey also showed a growing divide between the preferences of the younger (18-44) travelers and the 45+ demographic.

“Corporate travel plays a key role in driving growth for the travel industry as a whole,” said Adam Weissenberg, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and global travel, hospitality and leisure sector leader. “The results of our survey offer an encouraging sign for hotels, airlines and other service-providers.”

Who Is Traveling
“The outlook for next year is relatively positive, which surprised me,” said Weissenberg. Of the 19 percent of business travelers who expect less travel in 2011, more than six of 10 (64 percent) cite the recession as the primary reason, and 14 percent say a job change. The survey particularly shows optimism in terms of younger workers, he noted.

Specifically, 85 percent of business travelers surveyed expect to take more or the same number of trips next year with 27 percent of 18-44 year olds expecting to take more trips in 2012, while only 16 percent of business travelers 45 years old and above are planning to take more trips next year.

Moreover, reflecting on 2011 travel activity, the majority of survey respondents (81 percent) anticipate taking more or the same number of business trips than they did in 2010.

Generation Gap May Define Hotel Preferences
The majority of business travelers surveyed feel experiences at hotels operating under the same brand name differ depending on location, with six in 10 (60 percent) noting that facilities and service quality vary widely.

However, when looking at perceptions around hotel consistency among different age groups, 49 percent of respondents aged 30 and older believe hotel brands are inconsistent whereas only 39 percent of those ages 18-29 indicate the same. When considering loyalty, nearly half (46 percent) of the 18-29 year olds say they prefer to stay at their favorite hotel brand even if it is not conveniently located, whereas 37 percent of those 30 and older do the same.

“While it’s important for hotels to focus on the burgeoning number of young business travelers, finding a middle ground to retain brand loyalty among Generation X and Y, and boosting brand loyalty among the potentially more discerning baby boomers, will likely be a challenge for hotels in 2012,” continued Weissenberg.

[Flickr via RegusMedia]
Younger Travelers Crave Social Work Spaces & Automation
Two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) say they often work in their hotel room, with younger business travelers enjoying working in more social spaces, such as executive/business lounges and the lobby or common area.

Many hotels have done a good job evolving these lobbies from the stuffy and uncomfortable marble spaces of yore, Weissenberg said, noting that the biggest point of contention amongst travelers, particularly younger ones, is the lack of free internet in some hotels.

As a whole, 77 percent of business travelers surveyed indicated that complimentary internet is important to them, and 63 percent are satisfied with the availability of free Wi-Fi in hotels.
Nearly two-fifths (36 percent) of the 18-44 year olds surveyed say they often work in the lobby or common area, while only 17 percent of those 45 and older do the same. When it comes to interacting with hotel staff for check-in, almost two-fifths (36 percent) of the 18-44 respondents favor automated kiosks rather than checking in with a hotel employee at the front desk, whereas only 19 percent of the 45 and older survey participants say they prefer automated kiosks.

In next year’s survey, Weissenberg said that the company will likely further break down the age bands to better target generational preferences. “It’s becoming more drastic in terms of what baby boomers are looking for versus Gen X and Gen Y,” he said.

Travelers Prioritize Amenities and Efficiencies
Amenities continue to play a key role in the overall hotel experience, with six in 10 respondents (61 percent) expecting more from hotels with regards to amenities and services now that hotel prices have increased.

The survey also found that concerns around air travel are important, with survey respondents listing flight delays (37 percent) and security-related delays (30 percent) at airports as the leading grievances about business travel today. Additionally, respondents indicate that issues with air travel are more of a concern than hotel challenges, such as inattentive staff and lack of amenities at hotels.

The survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an independent research company between September 26 and September 27, 2011.