Findings from a survey conducted by “Agile Travel Management” company Lola.com reveal that the preferences among frequent business travellers from small, medium and large companies in the US are evolving.

Administered through Kickstand Communications, the survey gathered more than 1,500 people responsible for managing employee travel, including executive assistants, who opened up about several major pain points of business travel.

Half of those surveyed said the amount of time spent adjusting bookings and travel arrangements is an issue, as is time spent gathering receipts and completing expense reports (44 per cent).

More than 38 per cent reported that the difficulty of booking travel on behalf of someone else is also a major bugbear.

Lola.com says pain points evolve as companies grow, with SME respondents 38 per cent more likely to say a lack of visibility into traveller itineraries is a pain point, while those from larger organisations were frustrated by the process of getting expense approvals through the corporate structure (41 per cent).

Those polled from bigger companies were also 34 per cent more likely to struggle with balancing corporate interests and policies with personal employee preferences.

However, travel managers from smaller companies were 60 per cent more likely to have control over setting or influencing policy change. They were also 50 per cent more likely to have freedom or flexibility in bookings and policy, as well as 40 per cent more likely to have the ability to make individual decisions when booking.

Furthermore, SME respondents were 22 per cent more likely to say their company plans to increase investment in travel management software in the next one to two years.

On the contrary, large organisations were 22 per cent less likely to say travel management gets the same level of attention and investment as other lines of business such as sales or marketing.

Looking at the preferences of business travellers, 72 per cent said they want to be able to book their own travel, but only 62 per cent of companies allow this flexibility. Eighty-nine per cent want visibility into their travel options, but only 79 per cent of firms actually provide it.

When it comes to travel options, 96 per cent of employees said direct flights allow them to be more productive, but less than half (48 per cent) of companies will pay more for non-stop services, while 80 per cent of travellers use wifi on flights to get work done despite only 30 per cent of firms paying for it.

But perhaps the most staggering difference comes from the 91 per cent of travellers who said staying closer to the event or meeting they’re attending helps them stay productive, yet only 36 per cent of organisations will pay extra for more convenient hotels.

Mike Baker, director of marketing at Lola.com, said: “Business travel remains an important part of the corporate world, but traveller preferences are constantly changing. The stereotype of business class flights to three-martini client lunches are fading, replaced by a new class of corporate travellers who value productivity and flexibility above all else.”

Read the full survey results here

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