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Business travellers are social on the road: Four Points by Sheraton survey

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Today’s business travellers are surprisingly social on the road, according to a recent survey by Four Points by Sheraton. 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 travellers are good networkers, with nearly two-thirds of those surveyed reporting that that they have kept in contact with someone they met on the plane or at the hotel while travelling on the road. About that flight, though: business travellers draw the line with their own colleagues, as more than 60 per cent 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 travellers globally – 1,000 each from the US, the UK, China, India, Germany and Brazil.

The first phase of the survey, released in August, explored the use of mobile technology to stay in touch while travelling, while the second phase focused on leisure activities. “Business travellers 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.”

Among key survey findings:

  • During their waking hours, business travellers 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 travellers’ 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 per cent ) named this activity, outpacing other pursuits such as going to the gym (38.97 per cent) or spa (37.54 per cent) or shopping (34.16per cent ).
  • By a wide margin, business travellers confirm they stay in touch with contacts whom they’ve met on a flight or at a hotel. 64.42 per cent of respondents indicated that they had stayed in touch with someone they had met on a plane or at a hotel while travelling, vs. 35.58 per cent who said they had not.
  • Business travellers 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 travellers (61.13 per cent) report that they would rather not share their flight with a colleague.

Differences by nationality:

  • According to the survey, Americans are the most frequent business travellers. American business travellers hit the road more often than their international counterparts, with more than a third (36.36 per cent) reporting that they average more than 10 trips per year for business. Conversely, Chinese travellers were the least likely to average more than 10 annual trips with only 7.07 per cent of respondents at that level.
  • Chinese and Indian business travellers socialise more. Chinese business travellers are the most receptive to sharing a flight with a co-worker (49.5 per cent), and a full 70 per cent 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 per cent) and the most likely to catch up with friends who live in town (52.63 per cent).
  • Brazilians go it alone. At 31 per cent, Brazilians are the least open to travelling with a colleague, with 53.62 per cent 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 per cent).
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