BCD research: Buyers say traveler wellbeing is No. 2 program priority

For travel buyers, traveler satisfaction and wellbeing is the second most important travel program priority after duty of care, according to a recent BCD Travel survey. In March, the travel management company surveyed 118 travel buyers worldwide, with 92% of survey respondents ranking the topic as extremely or very important.

Despite the emphasis on wellbeing, only 62% of the travel buyers surveyed said their companies provide traveler wellbeing support and only 14% said their companies plan to increase budget for traveler wellbeing in 2022. BCD also previously surveyed 875 business travelers for their views on wellbeing. The surveys reveal similarities and differences in buyer and traveler sentiment:

  • Awareness of wellbeing measures: While 62% of travel buyers are aware of offerings within theirs company, among travelers this figure is lower (51%).
  • Top options to make wellbeing better: Both travel buyers and travelers ranked convenient hotel location (73% and 58% respectively), direct flights (71% and 70%) and business class for long-haul flights (57% and 54%) among the top five policy options to improve traveler wellbeing.
  • The freedom factor: Travel buyers also rated freedom to decide to travel or not (55%) and a simple trip approval process (55%) as important policy options that contribute to traveler wellbeing. Neither made the top five among business travelers, who instead were more appreciative of airplane seat selection (59%) and fast-track security programs (58%).
  • Sustainability matters: While 43% of buyers offer sustainable travel choices for a better traveler experience, only 20% of surveyed travelers feel this contributes to their wellbeing.
  • Mental vs. physical wellbeing support: Wellbeing support showed the largest discrepancy between buyer and traveler sentiment. Travel buyers rated mental support measures (training in stress management, mental health counseling, and mental health support) as most important. Travelers instead care more about physical wellbeing measures (restaurant recommendations, nutrition, sleep and recovery advice, and gym membership when traveling).
  • Work-life balance support: Travel buyers placed more value on the ability to work from home before or after a trip (64%) than did travelers (48%), though this option was highly ranked by both audiences along with allowing work from any location and bleisure. Travelers are more interested in extra time off to compensate for business travel out of working hours (53% vs 20% for travel buyers), allowing a partner to accompany (50% vs 19% for travel buyers) and time off after long trips (48% vs 7%).

3 ways travel buyers can take action

Travel buyers can address the differences above by increasing traveler awareness of wellbeing programs and aligning policies and wellbeing measures with traveler values and needs. Some tips to get started:

  • Survey travelers to find out what they think and get the insights to make policy changes to better meet travelers’ needs.
  • Use traveler engagement to create awareness, influence behavior and increase satisfaction.
  • Communicate with travelers so they feel confident about their health, safety and wellbeing while on the road. TripSource Messaging ensures travelers stay informed and engaged with risk alerts, flight alerts, emergency response notifications, policy information and trip reminders.

“This survey reveals a significant gap between wellbeing supply and demand, as well as differing views on which measures most support traveler wellbeing,” said Mike Janssen, Global Chief Operating Officer and Chief Commercial Officer for BCD Travel. “Travel buyers should align their policies to what their travelers value and need. At the same time, they may also need to put more time and effort in clearly communicating the benefits of mental support, which is currently valued less than physical support.”

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