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Monday, August 8, 2011

Australian Business Travellers - Not So Keen To Be Green (If It Costs) Despite Having Largest Travel Budgets in Asia Pacific

Business travel research highlights differences between corporate 'road-warriors' from eight Asia Pacific countries

Australia might portray itself internationally as a leader in environmental commitment, but a new business travel survey shows that if this translates into paying extra to stay in an environmentally-sensitive hotel, Australian corporate road-warriors appear to be more mean than green.

The Accor Asia Pacific Business Traveller Survey 2011 shows that out of the 10,437 respondents, Australian business travelers were the second least-inclined to pay more for a credentialed "green" hotel. This was despite the fact that Australians had the largest and least-restricted travel budgets in Asia Pacific.

The research, conducted by leading Asia Pacific research consultancy Cimigo Ltd, surveyed members of Accor's A|Club loyalty programme from eight destinations: Australia, China, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand and Thailand.  Accor is Australia's largest hotel group with over 150 hotels under brands including Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel, Mercure, All Seasons and Ibis.

Highlights of the research findings include:

Australians more likely to be mean, than green – when asked whether they would choose a hotel above others simply because it was more environmentally conscious, Australian corporate travelers were the least likely to show their green colours, and only 38% of Australians said they would be prepared to pay more to stay at a conspicuously green hotel. This compares with 91% of Chinese, 67% of Indonesians and 62% of Indians.  Females were by far more committed to the green cause than their male counterparts, with 42% of females (compared to 32% males) prepared to pay more.

Australians had the largest hotel travel allowance in the Asia Pacific region – Australians had an average of US$158 allowance to spend on their nightly accommodation, almost 20% higher than business travelers from any of the other seven countries surveyed. Travellers from Australia are also likely to have 'no defined allowance' for business travel.

Location and familiarity come well before price in determining choice of hotel – while location was the primary reason for travelers from all Asia Pacific countries selecting a hotel, Australians placed higher importance on location (56%) and familiarity with the hotel/brand well ahead of price.

Corporate travelers increasingly want 'quality' internet access above merely free internet access – internet access was high on the list of 'preferred' services for the overwhelming majority of respondents, but increasingly corporate travelers are seeking 'quality' download speeds rather than just free (slower) internet. They want to be able to work fast and efficiently, and many will pay a "reasonable" amount for the service. Others just want to answer emails and print out airline tickets, which is why a large number of Accor hotels have introduced free internet stations in the lobby areas

Technology is king for the 'hotel of the future' – at least for Australians. Online check-in and check-out were key demands of the 'hotel of the future' as far as Australian corporate travelers were concerned. Smartphone in-room access and online booking for hotel facilities were considered far more important than fully personalised services, which was a higher priority for most Asian business travelers

Australians less likely to work in hotel rooms during business trips – Where as 82% of Chinese and Singaporean corporate travelers will work in the hotel during their international business trips, only 72% of Australians said they worked at the hotel during trips. This is possibly because Australians are more likely to travel overseas for "conventions' and "trade shows", rather than the more direct sales missions undertaken by Chinese and Singaporeans.

Australian corporate travelers plan less business travel in the next 6 months – not surprisingly Chinese business travelers are way out in front in terms of projected business travel, where as Australian corporate travelers anticipate marginally less travel in the second half of 2011 compared to the first six months

The 21st century doesn't seem to have changed the inequality between the sexes in terms of business travel – if there was one area of agreement across the eight countries surveyed it was that the boys club was alive and thriving in 2011. In each market, the majority of respondents were male, especially in India, where female business travellers were a significant minority. The discrepancy might be higher in Asia – eg 93% vs 7% male vs female in India – but Hong Kong and Thailand had the highest incidence of female business travelers, while there was a major imbalance in Australian corporate travelers: 71% males and just 29% females.

"While some of the results could have been predicted, there were other areas that showed marked differences in business travel habits and preferences depending on the respondent's country of origin," said Evan Lewis, Vice President Communications for Accor Asia Pacific.

"It would seem that most companies in most countries – apart from China – are cautious about business travel in the second half of the year, with no discernible rise in trips planned. Short-haul international trips such as intra-Asia or trans-Tasman were nominated as the most likely journeys.

"The survey found that business travelers in Asia Pacific were increasingly 'environmentally aware' but travelers from Asia were far more likely to put their money where their convictions were when it came to supporting environmentally-friendly hotels. This is possibly because in Asia environmental awareness is a newer phenomenon than in Australia, where the current carbon tax debate may have led to greater environmental apathy towards paying more for supporting green hotels. Having said that our Mercure hotels' carbon-neutral conferencing has proved extremely popular, and the difference in the survey findings between Australia and Asia may be because travelers expect hotels to be environmentally conscious and don't think they need to pay for that.  Female travelers across the region were more environmentally driven than their male counterparts.

"The question of internet access remains a contentious one. Many hotels across the region now offer limited free internet access, which does satisfy the needs of a large number of travelers, but for corporate travellers who need to work in their rooms, prepare reports or presentations or download large attachments, the issue is more of speed and capacity. They are prepared to pay if the capacity is high and speed fast. The importance of the net is also being reflected in Australia with many companies now negotiating 'bed and broadband' deals in preference to 'bed and breakfast', though it would appear from our research that Asian business travelers believe they work harder while on the road than Australians.

"With over 10,000 respondents to the survey it was a surprise to find that business travel was still so comprehensively dominated by male road-warriors. Whether that has been exacerbated by the GFC is hard to know, but the discrepancy does not appear to have narrowed all that significantly in recent years, despite all the efforts made."

Accor, the world's leading hotel operator and market leader in Europe, is present in 90 countries with 4,200 hotels and more than 500,000 rooms.

Accor's broad portfolio of hotel brands - Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Novotel, Suite Novotel, Mercure, Adagio, ibis, all seasons, Etap Hotel, Formule 1, hotelF1 and Motel 6, and its related activities, Thalassa sea & spa and Lenôtre - provide an extensive offer from luxury to budget. With 145,000 employees worldwide, the Group offers to its clients and partners nearly 45 years of know-how and expertise.

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