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UK business travelers are embracing the sharing economy

Sep 06, 2016

LONDON, England - Millennial business travelers are driving technological change as consumer travel habits continue to impact the business travel experience and corporate travel policy, according to the GBTA Global Business Traveler Sentiment Index, in partnership with American Express.

The research, which includes a survey of 405 UK business travelers, examines satisfaction with all aspects of business travel, and pinpoints the increasing use of technological innovation.

Key UK findings from the research include:

• 51% of company travel policies now allow use of ride share services, suggesting that many companies have ensured their policy reflects the new providers and technologies available.

• Over the next three months, just over one-in-ten (11%) UK business travelers think they will increase their use of ride share services, such as Uber and Lyft. This is primarily driven by younger travellers - over a quarter (28%) of Millennials say they will increase their use of ride share services. None of those over the age of 55 surveyed have plans to increase usage.

• Home sharing usage is not yet as widespread as other shared services. Just 28% of company travel policies allow home sharing services, such as Airbnb and HomeAway to be used.

• However, almost one in ten respondents (9%) think they will imminently increase their use of home share services. The age divide is, again, evident: 22% of Millennials say they will do so, compared to only 1% of those over 55 years old.

Millennials lead the pack in using social networking sites for business communication

• A majority of UK business travelers (62%) think technology won't replace face-to-face meetings when conducting business. Women (71%) and older workers (73% of those aged 55+) are most likely to think technology won't replace face-to-face meetings compared to half (53%) of men and 57% of Millennials.

• One-third (35%) think social networking sites help meeting up with colleagues and business contacts when traveling. This comprises over a half (53%) of Millennials, compared to only a third (34%) of those aged 35 to 54 and a mere 15% of those over 55.

Wi-Fi is considered vital to work productivity by four-in-five (81%) business travelers - and there's room to improve on-trip connectivity

• Hotel rooms have the highest satisfaction rating (79%) for Wi-Fi availability and reliability. Just under one-half (46%) of respondents are happy with Wi-Fi on trains and just over one- third (35%) are satisfied with airline Wi-Fi, meaning connectivity presents a clear opportunity for travel providers to improve the journey experience

• During flights, most travelers (57%) don't work, with many citing on-board hindrances to productivity; one-quarter (24%) tend to do work that requires the internet whilst flying, whereas the work of one-in-five (20%) does not.

• Millennials (31%) are twice as likely as the over 55's (15%) to be reliant on internet-based work whilst flying and are roughly twice as likely to cite hindrances to work whilst flying than their elders.

UK business travelers - like their peers worldwide - are much more confident about the health of their industry than the overall health of the economy

• 43% of UK business travellers rate the health of their industry as excellent - but only 22% would rate the overall health of the economy as such.

• This reflects the global trend: averaged across all markets, a higher proportion of business travelers rated their industry's health as excellent (a global average of 51%) than their own domestic economy (global average of 35% rated this as excellent).

Fabienne Cauli, Vice President, Global Client Group, EMEA & JAPA, American Express Global Commercial Payments, commented: "This Index provides a benchmark of business travellers' changing priorities and expectations - and it's fascinating to see how this is evolving, thanks, in part, to generational change in the workplace. Younger travellers show clear appetite for using sharing economy services, and have high expectations when it comes to connectivity. These issues are only going to become more prominent in the years ahead, as Millennials represent an ever-growing proportion of the workforce."

Catherine McGavock, GBTA Regional Vice President, EMEA, commented: "UK business travellers have made clear their views on many aspects of business travel and, whilst 70% of them are generally satisfied with their overall business travel experience, they have pinpointed some areas which those servicing the travel market could improve, for example, when it comes to Wi-Fi connectivity. Recent years have seen unheralded changes in consumers' technological and service expectations and we're now in an era where people expect to be able to work and communicate via the internet wherever they are."

UK business travelers are embracing the sharing economy

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