Understanding differing regional traveller sentiment profiles is an important step in creating the right approaches to boost traveller experience

22 August, 2019

The recently unveiled GBTA Business Traveller Sentiment Index, produced in partnership with RoomIt by CWT, provides many insights into how business travellers feel about their travel experience and how those feelings affect their actual behaviours related to travel.

The research identifies the key drivers of business traveller satisfaction over the last twelve months while also examining trip behaviours, experiences, preferences and challenges. It illustrates many universal trends among business travellers across the world, like high satisfaction with business travel (86%), and especially for the hotel-related components of travel.

However, a closer look at each region, reveals unique traveller sentiment profiles across different parts of the world, which Peggy Studer, vice president of marketing at RoomIt by CWT, has now revealed in an interesting blog post.

For background, to develop the Sentiment Index and assess feelings around business travel, an online survey was conducted among business travellers around the globe covering United States of America, EMEA, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. This found four key general categories that "directly impact business traveller sentiment" and comprise:

  • Traveller experience (i.e., attitudes toward general trip experience from booking to air travel and hotel stays to expense reporting);
  • Trip success and meeting business objectives (i.e., attitudes toward aspects of the business trip that lead to improved trip success);
  • Travel management policy friction (i.e., attitudes toward company travel policy management, flexibility and comprehension);
  • Technology for business travel (i.e., opinions about technology's impact on business travel).

The Sentiment Index found that traveller experience proved to have the largest impact (54%) on business traveller satisfaction. With 52% reporting they had a delayed flight and 40% a cancelled flight, it is no surprise flights were a leading factor in traveller experience. Yet, the findings show that the travel components most closely correlated with travel satisfaction are hotel-driven, including staying at conveniently located hotels, booking air and hotel, the hotel check-in/check-out process, and payment for travel arrangements.

The regional profiles provide some valuable further insights into business travellers. Travellers in North America are described as "stressed and not as impressed" and among the hardest to please, while those in Latin America are said to be "personal and productive" and feel the most productive while travelling than travellers in any other region. Across Europe, Middle East and Africa "choice matters", while across Asia Pacific business travellers are "tech-savvy and willing to travel" and are eager for more options and interactions.

There are many more insights into each of the regional profiles in Ms Studer's blog post on the GBTA Business Traveller Sentiment Index.

North American business travellers report the highest levels of frustration and are the least likely to want to travel more often for work - in fact only 54% would do so. Almost two thirds (64%) of North Americans say travelling for business increases their stress and over half (57%) feel their travel policy takes their health and wellness into consideration, identified as the lowest among all regions.

Meanwhile, in Latin America, three-quarters (75%) of business travellers feel very productive in handling day-to-day tasks while on the road, compared with between 55%-60% in other regions. As much as nine in ten (89%) also feel travel is vital to making progress on projects or company initiatives supporting the strong feeling among Latin America business people that business should be conducted face-to-face.

Across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, one in three people travel over 12 times a year making them the busiest travellers in the world. Despite their regularity of travel, they tend to have less mishaps and are generally pretty satisfied with their experience. One area of concern for these travellers is identified as the variety of choices when booking accommodations, as they are the least satisfied among all regions (only 17% being very satisfied). This low satisfaction can result in higher hotel programme leakage, identifies Ms Studer.

Travellers across Asia Pacific report that they are the most likely to have home-sharing included in their travel policies. This seems to be in response to a high demand for alternative lodging styles in this region (only 19% are very satisfied with accommodation options). Almost two-thirds (63%) feel technology can be used as an effective replacement for face-to-face meetings and travellers in the region are the most likely to use mobile or cashless wallets over the next 12 months.

Understanding each region's distinct sentiment profile is an important step in creating a more specialised approach to travel that will go much further in improving overall traveller experience, and Ms Studer expresses the need for a "multivariate approach to solving traveller sentiment".

"The first iteration of the GBTA Business Traveller Sentiment Index has shown that improving traveller experience means adopting more user-friendly tools, focusing on health and wellness, opening up your content offerings and giving travellers in Asia and Latin America plenty of opportunity to travel and interact," she adds.