Top 3 Travel Trends of 2020By Kathleen Burns, published on Feb 12, 2020
Business travel is changing. Here are the trends to pay attention to if you want to keep up.
One month in and 2020 is already shaping up to be a big year for corporate travel. Millennials (and the like) are joining the business travel landscape in droves, and their preferences about health, work-life balance and general travel habits are already having a major impact on how businesses and travel suppliers approach corporate travel .
At least, that’s what the data says.
We surveyed over 1,000 business travelers in the United States to develop a greater understanding of frequent travelers’ behavior — and how it’s changing. Three trends stood out as potential game changers for 2020:
- and brand loyalty.
Here’s what we learned about evolving travel preferences and what they mean for the state of corporate travel.
Wellness is a Buzzword
From superfood smoothies to paddle-board yoga, gold encrusted face masks to bootcamp classes, people care a lot about getting their mind and bodies in tip top shape. If there’s one theme getting greater attention now more than ever it’s “wellness”.
And it’s starting to seep into the travel industry too (44% of business travelers wipe down or sanitize their seat and tray table when boarding a flight), but these healthful inclinations extend beyond simply disinfected tray tables.
The ways business travelers eat and drink while on the road are also evolving.
Gone are the days where air travel meant stocking up on candy and chips at Hudson Booksellers on the way to your gate, or an indulgent pre-flight meal at the only decent airport restaurant.
Instead, over half of business travelers prefer to bring their own food on flights, and among those people women are 30% more likely to bring their own food than men.
Packaged snacks aren’t the only ones losing favor among business travelers.
Nearly one third of frequent travelers cite water as their preferred in-air drink over soda or alcoholic beverages. In fact, only 18% of travelers noted alcohol as a top drink choice on flights.
Of those that prefer alcohol, wine is the most popular choice (44%), then cocktails (33%), followed by beer (22%).
And it’s not all about diet.
When asked about healthy habits, 82% of frequent travelers said that they regularly exercise at home. And nearly half of those reported keeping up with their exercise regimens while on the road.
Between hotel gyms and traveler discounts at popular fitness classes in a variety of cities, it has become even easier for travelers to keep fit away from home.
What do you get when you combine business and pleasure?
A growing number of business travelers are integrating their personal and professional travel. Whether this means extending business trips into personal ones, adjusting the times they travel for work, or finding ways to stay connected to the home base, one thing is clear: the lines between traveling for work and traveling for play are blurring.
When it comes to deciding when to fly, frequent business travelers are four times more likely to avoid Friday travel than Sunday travel. Part of this may be attributed to the rise of bleisure travel over the last few years.
What even is bleisure travel?
It’s the idea of extending a business trip to include some personal travel in the same destination, or another nearby. If your company sends you to Paris from Boston, you’d be crazy not to take some personal time to explore the city or even other parts of France once the work is over, right?
Right — at least in 2020.
In fact, over 50% of frequent travelers say that they prefer to extend their business trip to have personal time at their destination, rather than just come straight home when the work is done.
Bleisure travel is a phenomenon that is not going away anytime soon.
Younger generations entering the workforce are putting a new emphasis on work-life balance. And bleisure travel allows them to strike the perfect middle chord.
This quasi work-hard play-hard approach makes sure that employees are getting the job done, but that they also have the opportunity to explore the world, gain greater insights, and ultimately return to the office with a different perspective. Taking time off has proven to improve productivity and creativity once back at work, so bleisure travel is really a win-win situation.
Loyalty = Rewards
Today’s corporate travelers are more empowered than ever to pick the options that work best for them (instead of being forced to follow overly prescriptive travel policies). The result is that business travelers are more able to exhibit brand loyalty and control the time and manner of their corporate travel.
A central component to business travel is efficiency. Traveling is expensive, so it is important to get the best bang for your buck while you’re on the road. To do so, the majority of business travelers identify their preferred airline and hotel brands, and don’t tend to stray away.
The top three priorities when choosing an airline for business travel are:
- Flight time options (66%)
- Price (66%)
- Direct flight options (62%)
These are all correlated to where you’re going to and comping from.
Many frequent business travelers typically travel to and from the same cities, which means they likely go back and forth on the same flights each time. And once you find something that works, no sense in messing with it.
What else might influence their choices? Snacks.
The two top airlines for business travel are American Airlines (54%) and Delta (46%).
Those two airlines also happen to offer the best in-flight snack selection, according to frequent business travelers.
What about with hotels? The top hotel choice across most departments is Marriott. The main factors that influence hotel choice are proximity to the event or meetings (65%) and price (61%). And Marriott hotels seem to dominate across both priorities.
Loyalty rewards programs also likely influence these decisions — choosing a brand and sticking with it is the best way to get perks and discounts in exchange for your company’s dollars. Marriott has one of the top loyalty programs across all hotels for business travel, so it comes as no surprise that it is frequent travelers’ go-to.
This is only the beginning of the evolution of business travel. How else do you think it will change throughout the decade?