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airplane on a sunny dayAirline Cabins Becoming Mobile Offices

 Vision Travel survey reveals business travellers spend a third of their air travel time working

  • National business travel on rise
  • Laptop still the device of choice for business travellers
  • Most Canadian business trips stay within country

Canadian companies are getting their money’s worth from their employees who travel on business.

Business travellers on average spend 29% of their air travel time working, according to our recent survey we had conducted by an Ipsos Reid survey of Canadian business travellers.

The average is even higher among the three quarters (75%) who have traveled business class and admit to working while flying, working nearly half (47.5%) the time they are in flight.

The pressure for business travellers to remain as productive while on the go as they are behind their desks, is driven by the overall growth of business travel in Canada.

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) estimates global business travel spending to hit a record high of $1.31 trillion in 2014, a 6.9 percent growth over the previous year.  This growth is mirrored in Canada. “Our business has grown 12% on average every year over the past five years, due largely to the impressive rebound of business travel in Canada,” says Brian Robertson, COO of Vision Travel Solutions. “With more employees on the move, companies need to make sure that they are able to perform their duties with no delays. The travel industry is adapting well to keep up with this new mobile office.”

Robertson points to the new improvements in business class cabins and airport lounges by airlines as additional proof of market demand. In 2014 alone, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Air France, Emirates, and Etihad, among others, have announced major improvements in their business class products. “Even the onboard Wifi now being offered on most airlines, I believe, has been long overdue. This particular cohort of travellers are very influential because they can really move the needle on revenue.”

Indeed, majority of travellers on business class (87%) say that mobile devices enable them to remain productive while travelling. Laptops (73%) remain the device of choice, closely followed by smartphones. Only four in ten (40%) bring their tablets.

Don’t Forget Economy

Six out of 10 business class travellers say it matters what class they fly in, and as expected an overwhelming majority (90%) prefer to travel business or first class. In reality however, Canadian business travellers mostly fly economy, 80% on average, as most of their business travel is often within Canada.

Travellers placed great importance to flying business class for international trips (75%), but when asked about a suitable alternative, respondents say flying economy is suitable for US and domestic flights.

Robertson says this highlights the importance of coach. “Airlines shouldn’t forget about improving on their economy class products. With the recent spate of seat recline rage, we know there is a threshold for what concessions the market will bear. Economy class will still drive volume, and will remain important particularly for companies who mostly do domestic travel.”

Saving and Spending

Canadian companies turn to travel management companies to manage costs. Almost 70% of business travellers say their companies work with travel partners to help cut costs and 50% book their travel with a corporate travel management company. “Nothing can replace the professional expertise of a business travel agent, especially for multi-destination trips,” Robertson said. “It’s important for us to anticipate their needs before it impacts their ability to work, which is why we provide proactive travel alerts through a mobile app as well as 24/7 customer assistance in case of any travel delays or changes.”

Spending on entertainment has been stable, with two in three (66%) saying their company spends about as much on entertainment when travelling on business as they did three years ago, spending on average $183 entertaining clients and associates a day.