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Road Warrior Insights Sheds Light on Impact of Corporate Travel

ARLINGTON, VA—Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) released a study that challenges the wisdom of emphasizing cost savings when managing business travel.

The research finds that management should prioritize trip success rates and retention of their frequent corporate travelers. The study, “Achieving Better Business Travel Results: Insights from U.S. Road Warriors,” conducted by ARC and sponsored by Delta Air Lines, FlightGlobal and tClara, was presented at ARC’s 2018 TravelConnect conference in National Harbor, MD.

“Cost savings are roughly one percent of the economic value added by road warriors, so it makes much more sense to focus on how to increase the road warrior’s value-add,” said Scott Gillespie, ARC’s head of analytics and CEO of tClara. “This means increasing the road warrior’s trip success rate and their willingness to travel and decreasing their burnout and attrition risks.”

This report examines insights from 742 U.S.-based road warriors on the topics of trip success, attrition and retention, their desire to travel and what it takes to experience burnout. Findings reveal the negative impact of cost-focused travel policies; the keys to reducing road warrior attrition risk; the importance of traveler sleep, health and safety and the benefits of better quality travel. Senior executives can use these findings to significantly reshape their corporate travel program’s strategic priorities. Doing so should lead to more successful trips and better road warrior retention and wellness, according to the company.

Key findings include:

Road warriors, those who spent at least 35 nights away from home and took at least four trips by airplane over the last 12 months, say there is a 24% chance that they will voluntarily leave their employer in the next two years. Those managed by cost-focused travel policies are twice as likely to leave than those managed by traveler-focused policies (33% risk vs. 17% risk)

Road warriors rated 63% of their trips as mostly or very worthwhile. Those managed by traveler-focused policies reported a trip success rate nine points higher than their cost-focused peers (66% vs. 57%)

Forty-eight percent of road warriors say they hope to travel less often in two years. They view more comfortable travel and increased rewards and recognition from airlines and hotels as the two most important factors for their willingness to keep traveling as much as they do now.

Nearly three-quarters of all road warriors said these factors are very often or always important to their business trip success:

  • Hotels (73%), especially a comfortable bed, pillows and temperature; a quiet room and good WiFi
  • Flights (68 percent), especially no cancellations or delays; non-stop flights and preferred seating
  • Sleep quality (68%) before and during the business trip

Twenty-five percent of road warriors are significantly or extremely affected by jet lag. This highly-affected group reports 20% fewer worthwhile trips, a 14% higher chance of leaving their jobs, and much less interest in traveling in two years compared to those less affected by jet lag.

Twenty-three percent of road warriors report high scores for anxiety or depression. When compared to road warriors with low to average anxiety and depression scores, this group has a two-year attrition risk twice as high (37% vs. 17%), reports nearly half as many worthwhile trips (39% vs. 75%) and has far less interest in traveling in two years.

Seventeen percent of road warriors are presently or nearly burned out from travel. The main causes are too many nights away from home, the general stress of travel and travel’s negative impact on their health and their families.

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