The business tourism segment now developing in emerging markets

Recently, GBTA – Global Business Travel Association published its “Business Traveler Sentiment Index”, realised on 3220 employers which are regularly on business trips. The report refers to the period that goes from June to September 2016, and reveals some interesting trends which characterise this segment. The first information given is that, every three months, every interviewed person goes on an average of 4 business trips, spending about 9 nights in hotels or similar. Moreover, 64% of them believes that business trips are fundamental to keep positive their companies’ state of the art.

Technology appears to be one of the most important factors that influence the quality of business trip. In fact, as we have already observed, Wi-Fi is the priority for 77% of business travellers. In particular, 83% is mostly satisfied with hotels’ Wi-Fi, while less encouraging results are registered in airplanes (49%) and trains (48%). Moreover, 67% of travellers use mobile devices to check their travel itinerary, 55% thinks that mobile apps provided by OTAs, event organisers and tourism destinations enhance their travel experience.

Regarding payments, 49% of business travellers daily uses mobile devices to check their travel expenses. Notwithstanding, the favourite payment method is still the company’s credit cart (44%), followed by APMs – Alternative Payments Methods (14%), such as Paypal, and which are constantly developing.

The booking process changes from generation to generation. Millennials (18 – 34 yo), for example, consult several tourism services providers before the final choice, while Gen Xers (34 – 54 yo) generally book in advance but are open to last minute changes: in fact, 97% of them is inclined to choose flexible fares. Baby Boomers (55+ yo) believe that the presence of a good Wi-Fi service is indispensable since the booking moment, in order to keep in touch with their families.

Millennials mostly rely on OTAs (75%), even if only 72% is satisfied with their experience. Gen Xers usually book through travel management companies (89%), and the customer satisfaction is about 60%.

During the trip, as we have already reported, business travellers are inclined to rely on ride sharing services, even if 49% of companies do not allow their employers to use them. GBTA’s report underlines that this figures have grown yoy, when it was 44%, even if the number of business travellers who use them grew by 21%. In fact, according to Certify, in 2016 the total number of ridesharing receipts exceeded for the first time traditional ground transportation ones, such as taxi and car rental companies.

Concerning accommodation, the percentage of companies which do not allow their employers to use home sharing services is 70%, preventing them from using AirbnbHomeAway or similar. However, according to GBTA, their use among business travellers grew by 20% in 2016.

According to Concur Technologies, an American company which provides a software to manage business trips and travel expenses, the top destinations for business travels in 2017 are Tokyo, Singapore, London, San Francisco, Taipei, Barcelona, Sydney, Vancouver, Dubai and Cape Town. Some of these destinations, such as Dubai and Singapore, according to the World Economic Forum are among the 10 most secure cities in the world. In fact, 67% of business travellers affirmed that their companies allow them to go only to Countries which are perceived to be safe.

According to a report by the World Travel & Tourism Council and Travelport, the business travel sector will grow in emerging Countries. An interesting annual growth by 6,2% until 2027 is expected in Asian and Pacific Countries. In particular, China is foreseen to register a 9,5% annual growth, Myanmar 8,7%, Rwanda 8,5%. During the 2011 – 2016 period, important results were registered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (+32%), Qatar (+25%), Azerbaijan (+21%) and Mozambique (+19%).

Source: WTTC & Travelport

According to the report, the Countries which have registered the most relevant growth are the ones which have adopted policies to facilitate travel visas. On the other hand, GBTA underlines that the United States, during 2017, could possibly lose 250mn dollars from Europe and Middle East origin markets, as a consequence of the visa restrictions after the measures taken by the new president.

At Twissen we observed that the travel business segment is healthy and profitable. As we have already reported, political relationships between Countries and the visa policies (along with safety topics) can really make the difference on the success of a destination which wants to propose as ideal for this segment. The sharing economy sector has a strong potential to develop in this segment, even if the cultural shift is still evolving and, probably, more precise regulations will be useful to allow companies to rely more on those services.