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American Express Surveys Trends in Business Travel

American Express Business Travel recently released a survey of European business traveler’s “Loves and Hates” that indicates despite the current economic downturn and ongoing cuts in corporate spending, 93 percent of participants believe they would be traveling for business just as frequently or even more in 2008.

The survey, launched in lieu of the Business Travel Show in London, further explores what motivates business travelers and what they like and dislike about traveling in general. The findings -conducted by independent research company Loudhouse on 400 European business travelers- show two thirds of participants actually enjoy business travel.

According to the survey, business travel, which ten years ago was considered the reserve of board directors and high flying executives, has now become much less of a status symbol and more a corporate necessity in order to attend training (46 percent), conferences and seminars (46 percent) and conduct client meetings (43 percent).

Some 73 percent of respondents who travel more than 10 times a year actually relish the experience and 88 percent of respondents think it is important to know exactly what they are going to get when they arrive at their hotel, noting their top three hotel deterrents as being an uncomfortable bed (59 percent), a dirty bathrooms (49 percent), and an inconvenient location (46 percent). Two thirds of respondents believe that it is vital to be able to change their travel plans within at least 48 hours.

Many travelers said the first person they would call should any aspect of their plans change is either their spouse or partner (37 percent), closely followed by their boss (34 percent) whereas less than a quarter (23 percent) said they would call their travel agent first.

More than a quarter of respondents find business travel particularly stressful, however 84 percent don’t believe it to be any more stressful than it was a year ago. As found in 2006, the majority (42 percent) feels the most stress is in getting to the airport.

There survey highlights some interesting splits between what men and women value when flying business-class. Women are more concerned with being able to sleep on long haul flights with 41 percent believing that a flat bed would enhance their in-flight experience, compared with just 28 percent of men.

The survey indicates the importance of travel policy compliance. Some 60 percent of companies have some form of written business travel policy in place, although only 32 percent of these can be considered to be formal and comprehensive.

Only 45 percent of employees abide by their corporate policy all the time when arranging business travel. Where online booking systems exist, 57 percent of employees admitted they still rely on some form of off-line assistance.

On a personal level the survey indicates some 45 percent of business travelers opt for the same airlines, both in business and personal travel, while 41 percent always travel in the same class. Finally, 35 percent of participants claim to have gone on vacation to a destination they had previously traveled to for business.

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