Expectations do not always correspond with reality for business travelers
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
In today's fluctuating economy, the need for companies to maximize the return on investment of their business travel budget has never been more important. From ensuring that executives remain productive on the road to securing suitable yet reasonably priced accommodations during business trips, corporate travel managers must perform a continuous balancing act. While staying in serviced apartments and corporate housing is one way for executive travel professionals to reduce the amount of stress experienced by executives, some frequent travelers warn that expectations do not always align with reality for some business professionals.
The new normal
In an opinion-editorial published by Business Travel News, Tom Barrett, senior manager of indirect procurement for Ascend Performance Materials, wrote that high demand and limited capacity have contributed to an overall decline in levels of service at many hotel chains and airlines. Barrett also highlighted the potentially negative impact that the "new normal" can have on the productivity of business travelers.
"Sadly, we've come to expect travel delays as normal," Barrett wrote. "Travel now often means a less-than-productive day with late-arriving aircraft, mechanical interruptions, changes of aircraft and late departures. We have come to expect lower and lower levels of service for an ever-increasing price. Even my most recent stay at a national hotel brand lacked the crisp service that used to be standard, and dirty windows in the rental car go unnoticed."
Barrett also mentioned the importance of quality customer service, something he believes is lacking in today's business travel environment. While many hotel chains offer acceptable levels of service, staying in serviced apartments is a cost-effective way for corporate travel managers to maximize their budget, ensure that executives receive the level of service they expect, and maintain levels of productivity that align with corporate objectives.
While choosing to stay in corporate apartments can alleviate some of the pressures of this decline in service, other aspects of the business travel experience may continue to affect executives as they travel internationally in pursuit of new business. As a result, some companies are experimenting with ways to save money and provide executives with suitable accommodation, but not all services are appropriate for business travelers.
According to The Globe and Mail, social sharing website Airbnb.com has proven enormously popular with budget-conscious travelers around the world seeking to reduce the cost of recreational travel excursions. However, while the sharing economy business model may be ideally suited to the tourism sector, it is significantly at odds with the demands and expectations of many executives.
"I’d be surprised if there’s a single managed traveller, who is staying in Airbnb," Douglas Quinby, senior director of research at PhoCusWright, told the news source.
However, Quinby's research into the viability of services such as Airbnb for corporate travel revealed that as many as 70 percent of the 2,000 business travelers PhoCusWright surveyed said they were presently unmanaged. As such, these individuals were left with the personal choice of where to stay - and how to manage their limited corporate travel budgets.
As Quinby observed, it seems highly unlikely that corporate travel managers would ever seriously consider a service such as Airbnb for their executives. However, with the growing prevalence of self-managed executive travel, the popularity and competitiveness of such services may become more popular with individuals concerned about accommodation budgets.
While Airbnb and its competitors may gain traction in the unmanaged business travel space, serviced apartments and corporate housing will likely remain highly competitive for savvy business travelers seeking to lower budgets without compromising on their expectations.