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Has the Business Traveler Changed for Good?

Latest Travelocity Business Independent Study Shows Resemblance to Today's Leisure Travelers, and Debunks Common Myths

PRNewswire
FORT WORTH, Texas
Oct 14, 2003

With the travel industry continuing to look for a rebound, it's no surprise that more attention is directed at luring the typically lucrative business customers back to the marketplace. But as the economic climate has been transformed, the question must be posed: Has the business traveler also been irrevocably changed?

With this question in mind, Travelocity Business(TM) has taken a deeper look at today's business traveler and revealed some little-known facts about their travel behaviors. And, the independent survey reveals that the era of more flexible corporate expense accounts has come to an end, and a value- driven mentality has taken hold not only of today's leisure traveler and corporations themselves, but of the individual business traveler as well.

"The industry is looking to the business traveler to drive the travel rebound, but we'd be wrong to think that yesterday's corporate traveler has the same profile today," said Amy Ziff, editor-at-large for Travelocity. "The most successful travel companies will offer the business person service at a good value. This poll is intended to examine this evolving segment's needs, looking closely at business travelers' life on the road and finding out what makes them tick."

The poll, a phone survey of nearly 600 business travelers independently conducted for Travelocity by Synovate Market Research, was completed in August 2003. In addition to the details noted below, complete survey results can be found at www.travelocity.com/businesstravelerpoll .

Traveler Trends

According to the study, business travelers show more similarities to today's leisure traveler, with purchase decisions being led by price and overall value. The largest group of respondents (25 percent) said price was their main motivator when booking airfare, and 53 percent also noted cost as the most important factor in their rental car decisions, even above overall convenience factors.

In the continued economic conditions, who's filling up all those business class seats? Our survey showed that 85 percent are flying in coach, 9.7 percent are in business class and 4.5 percent are in first class. The study also revealed that today's average "road warrior" is now only traveling (via air and/or car) a handful of times during the year, 4-8 times annually according to the study, resulting in the accumulation of fewer frequent flyer benefits and other perks.

Apparently business travelers WILL dish out a bit more for convenience when it comes to their hotel stay, as location ranked above all else when making their selection, while cost was next on the list.

Traveler Preferences

Travelers' preferences may be evolving as well. As airlines in particular search for the best cost-saving formula, often by eliminating certain services and amenities, the study showed that the largest group of respondents (25 percent) said leg room would be the hardest amenity to give up, even above loyalty programs and food services. Frequency of available flights ranks a close second.

The research revealed that comfortable bedding tops the list in terms of hotel amenities that matter most, surprisingly above high-speed Internet access and other seemingly important corporate amenities. When choosing a rental car company, most business travelers (nearly 60 percent) view expedited pick-up and drop-off services as the most important features and amenities offered.

"As the travel industry as a whole restructures itself to increase profits, it will be important to listen to customers now more than ever," Ziff said. "Suppliers may choose to maintain certain services in order to engender customer loyalty in the long run."

Inside the Business Traveler

Today's corporate traveler revealed that the best part of working on the road is getting to explore a new city. However, being away from home and family and having to deal with flight delays/cancellations were the biggest complaints. Additional survey findings delving deeper into business travelers' attitudes and preferences include:

   Trends:
   * Half of all respondents conduct online research before booking their
     business travel (up 55 percent from a year ago according to research
     from Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell)
   * When asked how often they extend their business travel for leisure
     purposes, 70 percent said they did not extend any trips in the past
     year (meaning almost one in three people did extend their trips)
   * The largest group of respondents, 43.6 percent, spend only one to
     two nights at most away from home on a business trip

   City Preferences:
   * The top 5 ranked cities respondents prefer to visit on business travel
     include:
     -- San Francisco
     -- Chicago
     -- New Orleans
     -- San Diego
     -- Las Vegas and Orlando (selected by equal number of respondents)

   * The top 5 ranked cities respondents prefer NOT to visit on business
     travel include:
     -- Los Angeles
     -- New York
     -- Chicago
     -- Dallas
     -- Houston

   Airport Preferences:
   * The top 5 ranked airports respondents prefer to travel through on
     business include:
     -- Atlanta Hartsfield
     -- Chicago O'Hare
     -- Denver International
     -- Dallas - Fort Worth International
     -- Orlando International

   * The top 5 ranked airports respondents prefer NOT to travel through on
     business include:
     -- Newark
     -- Chicago O'Hare
     -- Los Angeles International
     -- La Guardia
     -- Boston Logan and Philadelphia (selected by equal number of
        respondents)

   Brand Preferences:
   * While some business travelers do shop by brand, most shop by price when
     looking for a flight or car rental in particular.  In fact, the
     importance of loyalty programs scored average to low in the air, hotel
     and car categories
   * When asked which airlines are most frequently used, American Airlines
     (18.2 percent) and Delta (17.9 percent) rank highest
   * In terms of hotel chains, Marriott (28.1 percent) and Hilton
     (9.6 percent) are the most frequently used
   * In terms of rental car agencies, Hertz (27.6 percent) and Avis
     (19.7 percent) are the most frequently used

  About the Travelocity Business Traveler Poll

The Travelocity study was fielded from August 6 - 17, 2003 via a phone survey of a random sample of U.S. business travelers by Synovate Market Research. The research responses were from 600 Americans who have made a business trip in the last 12 months.

About Travelocity Business

A full-service corporate travel agency, Travelocity Business(TM) allows companies to plan, buy and manage their travel through its online and offline capabilities. Travelocity Business offers companies flexible and efficient services different from a brick-and-mortar travel agency through dedication to superior online capabilities and customer service agents guaranteed to be available in 60 seconds 24/7, as well as savings through flight deals, hotel discounts and service fee savings. Companies can realize an average savings of $142 per trip, including airfare savings averaging 26 percent per ticket and service fee savings of up to 84 percent. For more information, companies can visit www.travelocitybusiness.com .

About Travelocity

Travelocity, a Sabre Holdings(TM) company, pioneered the online travel space and continues to be the most popular travel service on the Web, giving consumers access to hundreds of airlines, thousands of hotels and cruise, last-minute and vacations packages, and best-in-class car rental companies, all backed by 1,000 customer service representatives staffed to provide 24-hour assistance. With 40 million members, Travelocity is the sixth largest travel agency in the United States. It has been recognized worldwide for its leadership in the online travel space, and it operates or powers Web sites in five languages across four continents. Additional information about Travelocity can be found on the Web at http://www.travelocity.com/ .

Sabre Holdings Corporation is a world leader in travel commerce, retailing travel products and providing distribution and technology solutions for the travel industry. More information about Sabre Holdings is available at http://www.sabre-holdings.com/ .

   CONTACT:
   Judy Haveson (judy@vollmerpr.com)
   212/554-7425
   Amanda Borichevsky (amanda@vollmerpr.com)
   972/488-4790
   VOLLMER

SOURCE: Travelocity

CONTACT: Judy Haveson, +1-212-554-7425, or judy@vollmerpr.com , or
Amanda Borichevsky, +1-972-488-4790, or amanda@vollmerpr.com , both of
VOLLMER, for Travelocity