Ease of passing through airport security a growing concern; TSA Pre™ approved clients increasing; and corporate travel policies skew to top executives in the “front of the plane” only.

Plymouth, MN (January 12, 2015) —According to the results of the top business travel trends survey from Travel Leaders Group, released today, over 45% of Travel Leaders Group’s business-focused travel agents have indicated that their clientele will be traveling more in 2015 than last year – which is an increase of over 7% from last year’s survey.  The findings also reveal the most valuable service is access to travel experts 24-hours a day, and that while delayed flights and limited airline seat availability are still the top travel concerns, an increasing issue is the ease of passing through security.  Conducted November 11 – December 8, 2014, these business travel trends are based on responses from 429 Travel Leaders Group owners, managers and frontline travel agent experts throughout the United States who identified that 50% or more of their portfolio consists of business travel clients.

“We are heading into this new year with quite a bit of optimism about the potential increase in business travel compared to 2014. Even so, we continue to focus on additional opportunities to assist our clients and travelers,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben. “Ancillary fees for items such as changing flights, upgraded or premium airline seats, and for airline baggage continue to be the most frequently encountered by our business travelers.  Because of that, it’s no wonder that ‘tracking and using nonrefundable tickets’ is among the most valuable services our agents have indicated they provide to our clients – in addition to 24-hour service and the ability to assist clients with ‘waivers and favors’ during extenuating travel circumstances.”

“Business travelers face plenty of challenges. The survey data, which includes insights from many of our Travel Leaders Corporate agents, shows an increase in clients willing to complete the application and interview process for the TSA Pre✓™ program, in order to expedite part of their overall travel experience,” noted David Holyoke, President of Travel Leaders Corporate, the Travel Leaders Group division devoted exclusively to business travel. “Because more and more airports and airlines are participating in the program, it makes perfect sense that more of our clients would opt to enroll in TSA Pre✓™. This way, instead of removing their laptops, shoes and liquids from their carry-on bags every time they’re at the airport, they sail through security so they can return to their business more quickly.”

Anticipated Level of Business Travel in 2015

When Travel Leaders Group business travel experts were asked, “What have your business travel clients indicated in terms of either actual bookings and/or client feedback as to the amount of travel they anticipate for 2015 compared to 2014?” the results were:

 

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

Booking levels will increase compared to last year

45.5%

38.4%

38.7%

34.5%

39.7%

Booking levels will remain on par with last year

34.0%

39.4%

40.8%

42.2%

36.3%

Booking levels will decline compared to last year

4.9%

5.7%

9.8%

4.7%

7.8%

*The totals do not add up to 100%. The remaining experts polled stated “unknown.”

 

Top Business Travel Concerns

When asked, “What are the top three concerns for your business travelers?”  Travel Leaders Group’s survey participants provided the following insights:

   

2015

2014

1

Delayed flights

68.5%

70.1%

2

Limited airline seat availability

42.0%

46.7%

3

Ease of passing through security

33.1%

28.3%

4

Earning frequent flyer/loyalty points

32.9%

37.5%

5

Travel costs

28.7%

29.7%

 

Most Valuable Services

Acknowledging that the most value in working with a travel agent is having instant access to an expert to assist travelers before, during and after a trip, Travel Leaders Group agents were asked, “In addition to having access to an experienced agent, which of the following services will be most valuable to your clients in 2015?” the following were the top three responses were:

1

24-hour service

37.3%

2

Waivers and favors

21.0%

3

Tracking and using nonrefundable tickets

13.5%

 

Ancillary Fees for Business Travelers

Managing business travel budgets is more complex than just identifying the cost of airline tickets, hotel night stays and car rentals.  There is an ever-increasing amount of ancillary fees. Travel Leaders Group business travel experts were asked, “Please choose the most frequently charged Ancillary Fees your business travel clients encounter.” Agents could select multiple answers.

   

2015

2014

1

Airline fees for changing flights

73.7%

77.4%

2

Airline fees for seat assignments (upgrade and/or premium seat)

53.9%

52.6%

3

Airline fees for baggage

53.2%

55.0%

4

Hotel fee for Internet

17.7%

18.5%

5

Hotel “resort” fee

11.7%

11.8%

6

Hotel fees for parking

10.3%

10.1%

7

Airline fees for Internet

8.9%

6.8%

8

Car rental fees for one-way rental drop-offs

5.6%

9.0%

9

Hotel fees for early check-in/late check-out

4.4%

4.0%

10

Car rental fees for tolls

3.03%

2.1%

 

Corporate Policy for Domestic “Front of the Plane” Travel

When asked, “What company policy do the majority of your business travel clients have in place for flying in First and Business Class domestically (U.S.)?” the top responses were: “Only executives may select First or Business Class on all flights” (29.8%), “Never allowed on domestic flights” (27.7%), and “Only executives for flights over 5 hours” (17.2%).

Corporate Policy for International “Front of the Plane” Travel

When asked, “What company policy do the majority of your business travel clients have in place for flying in First and Business Class internationally?” the top responses were:

May select First or Business Class on all flights – executives only

25.9%

Only for flights over 8 hours – all travelers

13.8%

Only for flights over 5 hours – all travelers

9.3%

Only for flights over 5 hours – executives only

9.3%

 

TSA Pre

When asked “What percentage of your business travel clients are approved for TSA Pre✓™?” more than 22% of Travel Leaders Group business travel experts indicated that a majority of their business travel clients are approved for TSA Pre✓™ and over 23% said that between 41-50% of their corporate travel clients are TSA Pre✓™ approved.

51% or more of clients

22.3%

41-50% of clients

23.1%

31-40% of clients

17.7%

21-30% of clients

17.1%

11-20% of clients

10.7%

1-10% of clients

7.3%

0% of clients

1.8%


These business trends are part of a comprehensive travel trends survey which included responses from 1,226 U.S.-based travel agency owners, managers and frontline travel agents from the flagship Travel Leaders brand, along with those affiliated with Travel Leaders Group’s Cruise Holidays, Cruise Specialists, Luxury Travel Network, Nexion, Protravel International, Results! Travel, Travel Leaders Corporate, Tzell Travel Group and Vacation.com units. To view the results from the Travel Leaders Group 2015 Travel Trends Survey, click here.

Travel Leaders Group is one of North America’s largest travel companies – encompassing nearly one-third of all travel agents – and generated gross travel sales of approximately $20 billion annually. Travel Leaders Group is a leader in both the retail travel agency space and corporate travel, and it consistently ranks as one of the top travel companies nationwide.

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About Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group (www.travelleadersgroup.com) is transforming travel with a commitment to our vacation and business travel clients via our progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Having already assisted millions of travelers – through our beginnings as Carlson Leisure Group, a division of Carlson Companies, TraveLeaders and Tzell Travel Group and through the additions of Nexion, Vacation.com and Protravel International – Travel Leaders Group manages leisure, business and franchise travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands. With annual sales of approximately $20 billion through over 6,500 locations, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest traditional travel agency companies.