Business Travel to Increase in 2014, According to Survey

Could the seats at terminals — such as this one at Indira Gandhi International Airport near Delhi — be filled with more business travelers in 2014? Photograph by FlyerTalk member carsnoceans. Click on the photograph for a trip report written by carsnoceans.

Business travel is expected to increase significantly in 2014, according to a recent survey of greater than 1,300 business travelers conducted by Frequent Business Traveler magazine in association with FlyerTalk.
Greater than 33 percent of business travelers who were surveyed said that they plan on taking more trips in 2014 as compared to 2013; while greater than 50 percent said that they anticipate taking more business trips in 2014 than they did in 2012.
According to the survey, travelers are more loyal to their favorite airlines than to hotel lodging brands: greater than 93 percent of them prefer to fly with a particular airline or alliance; while 72 percent said they prefer to stay at a particular brand of hotel.
55 percent of those travelers surveyed will stay at their favorite lodging brand — even if the property is not conveniently located — while the rest will select a different hotel option.
Although there may be an overlap, it is important to note that frequent fliers and business travelers are not necessarily the same group of people. You might conclude that the perceived devaluations which were announced or implemented this year by commercial airlines would curtail airline travel as a result, but the opposite may very well be true.
For example, the implementation of such policies as elite qualification dollars by Delta Air Lines and United Airlines may actually increase the chances of upgrades for business travelers with expense accounts who are not looking for the absolute least expensive airfares; while those frequent fliers who attained the benefits of elite level status solely on spending the least amount of money possible may become irrelevant
…and I would not be the least bit surprised to see those who may be considered irrelevant in the current travel climate reduce their travel accordingly — but the survey does not cover anyone other than those classified as “business” travelers.
I am not sure I am more loyal to an airline than to a lodging company, as I will continue to patronize companies which at least treat me fairly. I refuse to patronize companies which treat me less than fairly — and my list of such companies includes those with whom I have not done business in years; as well as one with whom I have stopped doing business within the past few months.
Companies can also persuade me with special offers which benefit me: free elite status, significant discounts, increased benefits — they all can work for me and may prompt me to re-direct some or all of my business without prejudice.
Regardless — although they are used more like marketing tools these days — it appears that frequent travel loyalty programs may in a way be reverting to their original core purpose: to reward the business traveler who is loyal to their brand with perks and benefits to be used when traveling on vacation or holiday as well as on business by closing the loopholes of those people who take advantage of the system which they set up in the first place. Let’s face it: frequent travel loyalty programs were not created with the “mileage runner” or the “mattress runner” in mind…
…and although I have embarked on some rather whacky itineraries to maintain or achieve elite level status in the past — whether on a business trip or as part of my leisure travel — I have never embarked on a pure “mileage run” or “mattress run.”
By the way, you can participate in a survey pertaining to whether or not you have participated in a “mileage run” or “mattress run in 2013. That survey is also being conducted by Frequent Business Traveler magazine in association with FlyerTalk; and it concludes on December 31, 2013.
Just for the record, I do not expect my business travel to increase in 2014 — but my experience as a frequent flier suggests that that pattern can always change on a moment’s notice.
Why do you suppose that travelers seem to be significantly more loyal to airlines than to hotel lodging brands? Do you happen to be one of those travelers? Is your business travel expected to increase in 2014? If you are not a business traveler, will your travel increase, decrease, or remain the same in 2014?

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