Today’s business travelers are surprisingly social on the road, according to a recent survey by Four Points by Sheraton, the “best for business” brand of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT). Aside from sleeping, for instance, survey respondents indicated that enjoying the hotel bar or restaurant with colleagues or business partners was their number one activity during free time, outpacing time spent in the gym, spa, shopping or catching up with local acquaintances. In addition, business travelers are good networkers, with nearly two-thirds of those surveyed reporting that they have kept in contact with someone they met on the plane or at the hotel while traveling on the road. About that flight, though: business travelers draw the line with their own colleagues, as more than 60% indicate that they would prefer to fly alone rather than with a business associate. These are among the results of a 2012 hotel business travel study commissioned by Four Points that polled a total of 6,000 business travelers globally – 1,000 each from the United States, the United Kingdom, China, India, Germany and Brazil. Four Points is growing rapidly across nearly 30 countries and carefully monitors the needs and habits of business travelers. The first phase of the survey, released in August, explored the use of mobile technology to stay in touch while traveling, while the second phase focused on leisure activities. “Business travelers have a real need to connect on the road – both virtually and in person,” said Brian McGuinness, Starwood’s senior vice president, specialty select brands. “Our survey results reveal that road warriors are social, preferring to network or to relax in the company of colleagues rather than just enjoying solitary pursuits.” McGuinness continued, “Four Points provides everything our guests need to be productive and comfortable on the road and that includes creating opportunities to connect socially through brand-wide programs like Best Brews ™, which invites guests to gather over a great local craft beer when the work day ends.”
Among key survey findings:
- During their waking hours, business travelers frequent the hotel restaurant or bar with colleagues more than other activities. Aside from sleeping, which, not surprisingly, is the activity that occupies the largest share of travelers’ time at a hotel, hanging out at the hotel bar or restaurant with colleagues or business partners is the top ranked activity on the road. The largest share of respondents (42.88%) named this activity, outpacing other pursuits such as going to the gym (38.97%) or spa (37.54%) or shopping (34.16%).
- By a wide margin, business travelers confirm they stay in touch with contacts whom they’ve met on a flight or at a hotel. 64.42% of respondents indicated that they had stayed in touch with someone they had met on a plane or at a hotel while traveling, vs. 35.58% who said they had not.
- Business travelers prefer separate flights. They may be happy to toss back a brew with a co-worker once they arrive at their hotel, but the majority of business travelers (61.13%) report that they would rather not share their flight with a colleague.
- Americans are the most frequent business travelers. American business travelers hit the road more often than their international counterparts, with more than a third (36.36%) reporting that they average more than 10 trips per year for business. Conversely, Chinese travelers were the least likely to average more than 10 annual trips with only 7.07% of respondents at that level.
- Chinese and Indian business travelers socialize more. Chinese business travelers are the most receptive to sharing a flight with a co-worker (49.5%), and a full 70% have stayed in touch with someone they met on the road. Indian road warriors are the most likely to hang out with colleagues at a bar or restaurant (61.05%) and the most likely to catch up with friends who live in town (52.63%).
- Brazilians go it alone. At 31%, Brazilians are the least open to traveling with a colleague, with 53.62% reporting that they don’t want to have to worry about anyone else. They are also the least likely to hang out with colleagues at a bar or restaurant (30.93%).