Opinion: The changing face of business travel

Last year, the Business Travel Show demonstrated that more money was being freed up in the business travel market in 2015, with a third (33%) of European Business travel buyers admitting to having more money to spend.

Shortly after that, figures from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) confirmed that spending on business travel in Germany, Britain, France, Spain and Italy is set to grow from $186.3 billion in 2014 to an expected figure of $210.6 billion in 2016.

Clearly the face of business travel is rapidly changing and as the number of business travelers across the globe grows so too do their expectations. Priority Pass, recently undertook research among the world’s most frequent business travelers to understand some of these changes:

The rise of the traveling young professional – A new group of frequent flyers and business travellers has surfaced among 26-35 year olds, who are demonstrating distinctive travel and spending habits. This group are very well-traveled, making an average of 24 round trips per year and nine business class flights. They are keen to show they are ‘making it’, take an average of seven gadgets while they fly and spend money on additional business travel benefits that offer convenience and comfort, more so than the older business travel demographics surveyed.

The growing importance of lounges and luxury – Did you know that when given the choice, 73% of business travelers choose to enhance their trips with added benefits like airport lounge access and travel concierge services rather than staying in 4* or 5* hotels? And that airport lounge access is today considered an essential or nice to have for 69% of the UK’s frequent business travelers? Luxury travel perks are being increasingly called upon by today’s business travelers. Interestingly, following feedback from focus groups of our members, Asian business travelers in particular also value the prestige and status that luxury travel benefits – like lounge access – bring to their trip.

Growing need for digital experience – Today’s business travelers expect everything, to be available digitally 24/7. To meet this demand we are seeing a rise in new services such as digital airline tickets, airport apps and digital membership cards for airport lounge access. With an enthusiasm for technology, business travelers value apps, smartphones and digital experiences expecting unique offers, regularly updated digital content and a seamless handover between all channels. 61% of those we surveyed cite gadgets as their biggest indulgence, while 90% spend more than 5 hours a week on their smartphone.

Stephen Simpson is global marketing director at Priority Pass

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