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Business Traveler Satisfaction: The generational divide

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In general, frequent business travelers are a content group with 88 percent satisfied with their business travel experiences and 84 percent that want to travel either the same amount or more frequently than they do now. It’s no secret that happy employees tend to be more productive, which could mean a better bottom line for your company. But what drives this satisfaction across workforces that are diverse in demographic, experience and generational differences? Today, the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in partnership with American Express Global Business Travel released new research that explores what drives and impacts travel satisfaction for frequent business travelers by the generations.

The new study, Traveler Satisfaction: Exploring the Generational Divide in Business Travel, identifies four key themes that correlate with business travel satisfaction: booking, productivity during travel, tracking and reporting and personal life. Of these themes, only booking and productivity during travel play a role in forecasting frequent business traveler satisfaction overall. The other two emerged when breaking the data down by generation.

Breakdown by Generation: What Matters Most to Each Group
Booking covers everything from the variety of suppliers that travelers can choose from to book and how they are able to book to the ease of making changes to their trip and more.  As booking is often a pain point for travelers, it’s no surprise that having a seamless booking experience drives satisfaction for business travelers of all ages.

Tracking and reporting focuses on variables including methods for submitting expense reports, tracking receipts and use of a personal or corporate card to pay for business expenses. Similar to booking, alleviating this pain point drives satisfaction for all business travelers.

Productivity during travel includes variables such as traveling on a plane, renting a car, staying at hotels and enrollment in a risk-based security program like Global Entry or TSA PreCheck among others. Overall, getting through airport security is an area of frustration for frequent business travelers and tools like Global Entry or TSA PreCheck help to mitigate these hassles. Frequent business travelers are paying for these tools themselves when their companies do not cover the cost (51 percent), and many have said that having these tools drastically improved their business travel experience.

Personal life, or the ability to maintain good relationships with friends and children while traveling for work, influences satisfaction for Baby Boomers. Interestingly, this theme is to unique to the Boomer generation and did not resonate with Millennials or Gen-Xers.

It is a true challenge for companies to build and sustain a satisfied employee base because of diverse generational needs. Acknowledging that there is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution is a step in the right direction for companies looking to improve employee satisfaction, particularly for employees who travel often to represent or promote their companies. The findings showed significant generational differences amongst frequent business travelers demonstrating that each generational group has unique needs. Companies should focus on supporting the key drivers of employee satisfaction and consider each driver through a generational lens.

Methodology: An online survey of 2,025 business travelers in the United States and Canada was fielded on January 4-19, 2016. This study focuses on 805 of those respondents who have traveled four or more times for business in the past year making them frequent business travelers.

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