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Business travellers booking longer and more ‘purposeful’ trips

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Business travellers are going on longer trips and pursuing more “purposeful travel” following the pandemic, according to the bosses of the Advantage Travel Partnership.

The TMC network, which is holding its annual conference in the Mexican resort of Cancun this week, said that business travel was “going from strength to strength” but there were changes in how people were travelling.

Jo Lo Bue-Said, the partnership’s CEO, said: “The leisure sector drives what we’re seeing in business travel. Business travellers’ expectations are fuelled by their experiences of leisure travel.

“People don’t want to be in the destination for just 24 hours – taking the red eye in the morning and coming back late at night. They want to go away for longer – this is fuelling an appetite for business travel in a slightly different way. People want to experience more.”

Andrea Caulfield-Smith, who has just taken over the role of Advantage’s managing director of global business travel, added that corporate travel was now “back up to pre-pandemic levels”.

“Customers are flying less but staying longer – ticket prices are up and so are transaction values,” noted Caulfield-Smith.

Andy Boorman, the consortium’s head of business development, told BTN Europe: “There’s more purposeful travel. Bookings are level with a year ago but they are for longer with TMCs adding in more hotels and transportation.

“We’re seeing that across the membership. Talking to TMCs in marine, oil and gas, media and entertainment, their trading is really positive for the year ahead. It’s also looking good for agencies specialising in event spaces.”

Advantage also released a new business travel white paper at its conference looking at how to improve relationships between the different parts of the corporate travel industry.

The report has been created by combining findings from Advantage’s Business Travel Symposium held in London in February with independent insights from specialist consultancy Temoji.

“The white paper acknowledges that although growing remarkable relationships is the goal it has not yet been achieved across the board,” said Advantage in a statement.

“Growing divisions in the industry increasingly pose challenges for the TMC, companies and travellers alike. There is work to be done in aligning businesses effectively.”

The publication cites a recent Festive Road report highlighting “huge disparities” between areas of importance to the buyer and the reality of the service they were receiving from TMCs. This included the traveller experience and pointed to “a discrepancy between the requirements of the buyer and the ability of the TMC to deliver”.

“This is where we are focused. We are dedicated to propelling our members’ businesses forward and recognise the vital role collaboration plays in this,” said Advantage in its paper.

“But we can see that there are obstacles we collectively need to overcome to build truly remarkable partnerships that will benefit not just individuals, but the business travel industry as a collective.”

To tackle this issue, Advantage has created a formula designed to help improve relationships between buyers, TMCs and suppliers, encompassing concepts such as partnership, purpose and value and how to “eliminate” thoughtlessness in these relationships.

Caulfield-Smith emphasised the importance of helping Advantage’s TMC members to “thrive in a competitive business travel landscape”.

“One of the key themes that came out of the symposium was personalisation and I think SME TMCs play a large role and can deliver the more personalised service that buyers are looking for,” she added.

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