Embassy Suites survey shows US business travel up

A new U.S. business travel survey commissioned by the Embassy Suites Hotels brand of Hilton Worldwide, McLean, Virgina, indicates that one-third of respondents report that they’re traveling more than a year ago to have face-to-face meetings with clients.

The survey was conducted by Wakefield Research between February 27 and March 2, 2012, using an email invitation and an online survey, among 701 American business travelers ages 21 and older who have taken one or more business trips in the past year.

“The survey shows us that while people are traveling more for business; those guests want to get more, literally, out of every trip,” said John Lee, Embassy Suites’ vice president of brand marketing.

The Embassy Suites’ survey validates that the current economic climate is still affecting business travel, but to a lesser degree than last year. At 32%, Fewer business travelers cite cut backs on travel due to the economy, down nearly 10% from 2011 when the level was 41%. These results reflect the value of in-person meetings with colleagues and clients in business relationships. Rather than sacrifice these meetings, 19% of respondents are being more frugal on the road by cutting back on meals and other incidental expenses or looking for hotels that are a good value (22%).

In a phenomenon known as “bleisure travel,” 61% of business travelers report that they maximize a business trip by extending their stay for leisure purposes at least some of the time. It is even more common among those who travel often, with nearly seven out of ten frequent business travelers extending their trips at least some of the time. On average, 45% business travelers stay an additional three days to take in the sights and culture of the area they’re in. Where would business travelers most like to extend their trips? The top cities to turn a business trip into a “bleisure” trip are San Diego at 60%, Seattle at 39% and Denver at 36%.

Nearly one in five respondents cite amenities as the most important factor when booking a hotel, which means these savvy travelers are looking to get more than the standard hotel fare. When asked in what ways they want to get more, approximately 70% of frequent travelers say free breakfasts, 54% say complimentary happy hours and 42% desire more high-definition televisions in their hotel rooms. When it comes to extra space, a hotel with two rooms is a big draw for many business travelers. 46% of frequent travelers would like more space to spread out in their hotel rooms, and 14% say their biggest travel pet peeve is small hotel rooms.

“Today’s travelers are actively looking to get more out of their budgets on the road,” said Lee.

The survey also revealed the area that is most likely to cause strife while on the road for business: technology. Because it is such a necessity for today’s road warriors, tech mishaps are cited as the most likely trigger for a “business travel meltdown.” Nearly 60% of frequent business travelers say that technology problems, such as issues with a laptop computer or forgetting a mobile phone, are most likely to cause a meltdown.