Survey: Disruption Frustration Threatens Travel Intent

Many business travelers this year have been affected by the air travel delays, cancellations and other problems that have plagued airlines worldwide, according to a new survey by travel management company Egencia, and nearly half said they would prefer to cancel future trips than deal with more disruption.

Staffing issues and supply-chain problems, among other issues, have dogged airlines around the world, leading to delayed and canceled flights and, in Europe, airport capacity caps and even limits on sales. About 73 percent of the trips of 750 business travelers apiece from the United States, United Kingdom and France who travel at least three times per year for business surveyed by Egencia and Censuswide this year suffered from some type of disruption.

Some of those travelers have had enough. Even though 94 percent of respondents said they see the benefits of being back on the road for work, 49 percent of those surveyed indicate they would prefer to cancel an upcoming trip rather than deal with flight disruption.

“About 50 percent of people who are questioning a business trip because of what might happen, I don’t think we’ve ever had that before,” Egencia president Mark Hollyhead told BTN Monday at the Global Business Travel Association conference in San Diego. “You might have had that in November in Denver, but you didn’t have that as a holistic belief about my plan for a business trip.”

Some of those who still intend to fly have taken steps to mitigate the likelihood of facing flight issues. About 46 percent of those surveyed indicated they have booked early-morning flights as a way to avoid delays or cancellations, and 40 percent said they avoid particular airlines or airports to minimize disruption.

“Because of your perspective on what’s going to happen, you’re more likely to book a flight early in the morning because it’s a higher guarantee than waiting until the end of the day,” Hollyhead said. “I think that’s new.” Typically, he said, most travelers would schedule flights based around their meeting plans or business needs, but “if I’m indexing towards my own personal life, making sure I’ve got the highest probability of getting to where I need to be at a certain time, that’s a very different lens of business travel.”

Hollyhead suggested that today most corporates are not taking hard lines with travelers about scheduling around potential disruption, even if there is additional cost.

Egencia parent American Express Global Business Travel unveiled a set of tools designed to help travel managers and travelers deal with flight disruptions, and 74 percent of Egencia survey respondents indicated they are more likely to use tech tools “like apps and virtual agents” since before the pandemic.

“People want a mixture of confidence defined by the tools you’re going to give me to do my work and the knowledge that I can pick up the phone or use the tools in order to get me back on track,” Hollyhead said.

RELATED: Amex GBT Adds Features for Flight Disruption Management

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