Travel buyers feel traveller satisfaction and wellbeing are key travel programme priorities

8 June, 2022

Travel buyers feel that traveller satisfaction and wellbeing is the second most important travel programme priority after duty of care, according to a recent BCD Travel survey, but despite this emphasis, only approaching two-thirds (62%) said their companies provide traveller wellbeing support and only one in seven (14%) said their companies plan to increase budget for traveller wellbeing in 2022.

The observation is based on a Mar-2022 survey of travel buyers worldwide, in which almost all (92%) listed the topic of traveller satisfaction and wellbeing as being extremely or very important. BCD Travel suggests travel buyers can address the differences above by increasing traveller awareness of wellbeing programmes and aligning policies and wellbeing measures with traveller values and needs.

It advises travel manager and travel buyers to survey travellers to find out what they think and secure insights to make policy changes to better meet travellers' needs, while also using traveller engagement to create awareness, influence behaviour and increase satisfaction. It also recommends to open communication with travellers so they feel confident about their health, safety and wellbeing while on the road.

Awareness of wellbeing measures to support business travellers varies

This latest research when married with another recent survey with business travellers indicates that awareness of wellbeing measures to support business travellers varies. While almost two-thirds (62%) of travel buyers are aware of offerings within their company, among travellers is notably lower at just over half (51%).

There are similarities and differences in wellbeing travel policy options

Both travel buyers and travellers ranked convenient hotel location (73% and 58% respectively), direct flights (71% and 70%) and business class for long-haul flights (57% and 54%) among the top five policy options to improve traveller wellbeing.

Travel buyers also rated freedom to decide to travel or not (55%) and a simple trip approval process (55%) as important policy options that contribute to traveller wellbeing. Neither made the top five among business travellers, who instead were more appreciative of aircraft seat selection (59%) and fast-track security programmes (58%).

Surveys identify significant gap between wellbeing supply and demand

These surveys reveal "a significant gap between wellbeing supply and demand, as well as differing views on which measures most support traveller wellbeing," acknowledges Mike Janssen, global chief operating officer and chief commercial officer for BCD Travel. For example, while 43% of buyers offer sustainable travel choices for a better traveller experience, only 20% of surveyed travellers felt this contributes to their wellbeing.

Wellbeing support showed the largest discrepancy between buyer and traveller sentiment

Wellbeing support showed the largest discrepancy between buyer and traveller sentiment in the two surveys. Travel buyers rated mental support measures (training in stress management, mental health counselling, and mental health support) as most important.

Travellers instead care more about physical wellbeing measures (restaurant recommendations, nutrition, sleep and recovery advice, and gym membership when traveling).

In terms of work-life balance support, travel buyers placed more value on the ability to work from home before or after a trip (64%) than did travellers (48%), though this option was highly ranked by both audiences along with allowing work from any location and bleisure.

Furthermore, travellers are more interested in extra time off to compensate for business travel out of working hours (53% vs 20% for travel buyers), allowing a partner to accompany (50% vs 19% for travel buyers) and time off after long trips (48% vs 7%).

Travel buyers must align policies to what travellers value and need

Mr Janssen observes that the findings show travel buyers should "align their policies to what their travellers value and need". At the same time, they may also need to "put more time and effort in clearly communicating the benefits of mental support, which is currently valued less than physical support," he adds.