Wheel’s Up: A Study of Frequent Flyers

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One of the central tenets of our business travel series Going Global is that Elite Travelers (frequent business flyers with a penchant for luxury) from around the world share many common preferences when it comes to international travel. European business leaders are pretty similar to their Latin American colleagues and intrepid American road warriors generally like the same experiences as Asian executives. However everybody is different and there are a few distinct trends amongst regional business travelers. So we were really interested to see the findings in the recent “Accor Business Traveler Survey” which looked at the travel preferences of executives from APAC (Asia Pacific).

In the first half of 2011 Hong Kong and Singapore tied as the most frequently visited business destination in Asia. No wonder, each city is booming and each has wonderful airports and luxury amenities. And I would venture that almost every Elite Traveler has a story about these cities’ hub carriers; Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. Remember the journey is half the fun so senior execs tend to choose trips to places they like when at all possible. Rounding out the list of business travel hubs is Thailand and China.

The survey reflected responses from more than 10,000 business travelers across the Asia Pacific region. In general the travelers and their habits were consistent with other regions, however we were a little surprised to see that 75 percent of respondents were male. We’d have expected more female business travelers. Not surprisingly however, the number one destination for female execs is Hong Kong with 36 percent of respondents saying they had visited, followed by Thailand at 33 percent. Each destination is very female-friendly and safe and each has done a good job in marketing to an upscale female demographic. Of all the respondents, 44% said they were at the Director level or above.

Now that we know who is traveling for business in Asia and where, let’s look at how they spend their money.

Daily hotel allowances averaged $121 US per night with Australian business travelers leading the pack by spending $158 per night. Singaporean and Hong Kongers spent $134 and $132 respectively, while the Chinese spent an average of just $99 a night on hotels. Reflecting an interesting cultural trend, 38 percent of Chinese respondents said that their hotel budgets increase when traveling with a boss. Obviously they’re being politically astute. Interestingly 90% of Chinese execs also reported that they would choose a hotel because of environmental considerations. That’s good to know.

Indian travelers were the most frequent visitors to the hotel gym and spa, while the Aussies spent the most on bars. OK we added that last stat about the Aussies, but really would anyone doubt it?

In the end the results aren’t too surprising and reflect a larger global trend. Elite Travelers try to pick trips to destinations they like and then they try to make the most of their journey. In this way Asian business execs are very much like their western counterparts.

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