Business travelers, where are they

A few months ago we were in the middle of 2017 planning and were talking to travel advertisers about their top goals for the coming year. One of the most common themes was driving more bookings from business travelers. This got us thinking a lot about what trends we’re seeing in the space overall and the best way to quantify them. In downstream conversations and projects, it became really apparent that it is far too easy to be prescriptive about this group instead of thinking about the bigger picture.

We decided it would be smart to step back and validate some of the things we believed about business travel and surveyed 250 actual business travelers. Here’s what we learned.

Some decisions not based in research

If you’re trying to reach a business traveler after they’ve started booking their travel, you’re greatly reducing your potential audience. This is an area where we were really guilty of prejudicial thinking. In our company, it is pretty common to book airfare early and then narrow down a hotel later. Our research found that this wasn’t a common behavior for business travelers; instead, it was more common for the booking to be a single event or for travel and lodging to be booked within a short period of time. Only 16% of the business travelers we surveyed had yet to book a hotel for a trip taking place in the next 60 days.

We also found that 21% of the time, the hotel is already chosen before the trip is confirmed. There are a lot of reasons that this can occur, ranging from familiarity and loyalty to an outright lack of choice due to company or client policy. Still, we were surprised to find out how uninvolved some business travelers are in the planning aspects of their upcoming travel.

Corporate solutions drive significant volume

When we asked these business travelers about what types of sites they are most likely to use when researching hotels for their business travel, there was an almost even split between review, supplier, metasearch, and OTA sites. What they did tell us clearly is that they have not yet moved to rental booking sites like Airbnb (using them only 14% of the time) and don’t often stray from corporate booking tools or agents, using them 44.6% of the time.

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