Survey shows traveler satisfaction influences air travel policies
Egencia today releases its Egencia Travel Policy Insights: Global Air Edition to highlight findings on air policy trends among its global travelers*. The findings show that companies’ concern for improved traveler satisfaction, productivity and talent retention can lead to trends in how policies are defined around the world.
Business travel makes up an important component of the $1.6 trillion travel market, and many business trips are not guided by company travel policies. “At Egencia, we see a huge opportunity to help companies move from unmanaged to managed travel. Building good travel policies is fundamental to this shift, but they are rarely benchmarked,” says Mark Hollyhead, chief operations officer at Egencia. “With this report, we take a look at our own data to provide clues on how policies are shaped around the world.”
The Egencia Travel Policy Insights findings show some key trends in prior approval, access to premium cabin class, advanced purchase behavior and day-of-week timing for both booking and traveling.
Free to choose – approval policies
Globally, companies tend to give travelers the freedom to make their travel choices without seeking prior approval. In fact, less than half (45 percent) of travelers are required to adhere to an approval policy. Companies are seeking a balance between using approval policies as a barrier to undesirable behavior and simplifying the booking process by removing the need to get travel choices signed off.
Economy travel is the standard
Globally, the vast majority of business air travel is done in economy class, and this may include premium economy. However, many companies unlock access to first or business class based on the length of flight, ranging from four to ten hours. This translates to a higher rate of premium travel for international trips: 33 percent of international travelers are allowed access to premium travel, while only 12 percent of domestic travelers get this special treatment.
So more than VIP standing, the traveler’s comfort is the main driver for allowing premium travel – making sure they can make the most out of their trip by arriving rested and productive for the business to be done.
It’s all in the timing
A typical feature of travel policies is a requirement to purchase air tickets well in advance. The recent ARC/Expedia report stated that Egencia clients have been shifting to longer booking windows (15+ days out) for premium cabin tickets originating across multiple countries including the U.S., the U.K. and France. However, among travelers from companies with advanced purchase policies, 50 percent of air tickets are still booked less than 14 days in advance of travel. This suggests that despite policies that require early planning, last-minute bookings are still allowed.
With advanced purchase policies, the advantage of choosing the least expensive day to book may not be a priority. However, for last-minute bookings, choosing the best day to save on booking a ticket may make or break business travel plans, especially for a premium fare.
The Egencia and ARC data show that Sunday yields the best deals on premium fares. However, the best weekdays to book premium are Monday and Tuesday, although the price will be an average of 25 percent higher than on Sunday. Programs that allow travelers to book anytime, anywhere may give opportunities for greater comfort if they can save on premium travel by booking over the weekend.
To bleisure or not to bleisure
Around the world, Monday is the preferred day to travel for both premium and economy class travelers – this gives them time to get their work done and be home for the weekend. However, travel in proximity to a weekend can lead travelers to incorporate some leisure time in a business trip, to create what’s known as “bleisure”. The report looks at what type of traveler is more likely to do this. With findings from a recent poll of Egencia travelers showing that 68 percent of global business travelers taking at least one bleisure trip a year, companies should consider creating policies that define responsibilities for costs and traveler security during the leisure portion of a stay.
Premium class travelers are nearly twice as likely to stay through Saturday (23 percent v. 12 percent). International travel tends to lend itself to end-of-week travel as well. Twenty percent of international travelers stay through Saturday, compared to only nine percent of domestic travelers.
Saturday stays, particularly for international travel, can give workers time to rest and acclimate before starting the work week abroad. Companies and employees can both benefit from bleisure. Saturday travel for international flights may also decrease the price of a plane ticket, so when the cost of extra hotel nights is factored in, for the same total trip cost, the traveler can be rested, more productive and maybe happy to have some time to explore a new city, providing the perfect balance of traveler satisfaction and cost savings.
* Findings are based on an Egencia September 2017 study of global travel policies and travelers’ online and offline booking behavior. The first Egencia Travel Policy Insights release, inspired by the recent Expedia/ARC 2018 Air Travel Outlook Report published in December, 2017, shows how companies handle air travel policies across the globe.