Business travelers on road more this year, but still seeking value

MCLEAN, VIRGINIA Business travel is on the rise compared to 2010, but road warriors are actually more apt to seek out value when booking hotels, a new survey commissioned by Embassy Suites Hotels finds.

About 27% of business travelers say they are looking for value when booking hotels, which us up from 24% a year ago. Still, they report splurging more when it comes to flights and food, with fewer road warriors flying exclusively coach (down to 21% from 29%), and only one in five are cutting back on meals this year, down 4% from 2010.

The results are from Embassy Suites Hotels’ third annual U.S. Business Travel Survey, conducted last month by Wakefield Research.

When it comes to the best U.S. cities for business travel, New York City is king—the Big Apple was ranked first by survey respondents (20%), with Chicago in second place at 12% and Los Angeles in third at 10%.

Business travelers are torn when it comes to choosing the easiest U.S. airport to navigate, with John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport tied for first, each receiving 10% of the vote. Los Angeles International Airport and O’Hare International Airport in Chicago are tied for second, each garnering 8%.

“We think it’s important to take the pulse of America’s business travelers each year to validate current travel trends and uncover new ones,” says John Lee, vice president of brand marketing for Embassy Suites Hotels. “As 60% of our guests are business travelers, it’s a priority to ensure that we are consistently providing an offering that makes each and every business trip even better.”

Ninety-seven percent of business travelers think face time is the most important part of developing and maintaining strong client relationships and over half (53 percent) of business travelers reported having more in-person meetings with clients than in previous years. “Face-to-face meetings are irreplaceable when it comes to the health of client relationships,” says business travel strategist Joel Widzer, Psy.D. “We connect with our clients better when we are able to meet in person, which certainly makes it worth taking that business trip on a regular basis.”