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Business travellers looking to balance work and play according to to new American Express survey

Employees disconnect from work during long flights and extend business trips into personal breaks

Business travellers are taking to the skies just as much as in previous years but they are increasingly taking time for themselves while on the road, according to new research released today by American Express Global Business Travel. The survey, which analysed the habits of business travellers in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, found that U.K. business travellers are taking an average of seven business trips by air each year, six of which are international.

According to the survey, 43% of U.K. business travellers are now making more day trips than overnight stays; however, six in ten U.K. business travellers surveyed say they have extended a business trip in order to take a personal holiday in the past year.

Additionally, in spite of overall better connectivity and Wi-Fi access while in the air, it seems that U.K. business travellers actually prefer having a break from work – with 72% of U.K. business traveller respondents saying they enjoy not having access to Wi-Fi while in-flight, as it gives them the chance to disconnect and unwind. In fact, only 17% of U.K. business travellers surveyed work while on long flights and the majority (58%) say they take the time to entertain themselves with a book or a film. Socialising or networking seems to be the last thing on their minds with only 1% of U.K. business travellers surveyed using their time to interact with other passengers.

“As Millennials begin to make up a larger portion of the global workforce, we’re seeing more corporate employee travel behaviours that focus on alleviating travel-related stress,” said Champa Magesh, Vice President and General Manager U.K., American Express Global Business Travel. “These travellers place a higher value on work/life balance and are savvy about how to travel efficiently. They make the most of their time on the road and maintain their mental and physical health while away from the office.”

The Healthy, Relaxed Traveller
In an added effort to relieve stress and stay healthy, the majority of U.K. business travellers surveyed say they turn to a combination of diet and exercise in order to maintain good health while travelling. According to the survey, more than seven out of ten (71%) frequent U.K. business travellers say they will drink extra water, 60% stretch on the plane, and 30% use anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitisers – although only 29% will use the gym at the hotel. A surprising 24% of U.K. business travellers surveyed wear compression socks in-flight (compared to just 7% in the U.S.). In terms of diet and nutrition, 27% of U.K. business travellers surveyed said they will avoid alcohol and only 18% will supplement their diet with vitamins (compared to 41% in the U.S.).

In order to make their trips more comfortable and efficient, the most common travel-related services U.K. business travellers surveyed like to take advantage of overall are Wi-Fi in the hotel, followed by hotel breakfast and airport lounge access.

If their company is picking up the tab, airfare upgrades, Wi-Fi in the hotel and airport lounge access are the top three services that are most desired by U.K. business travellers surveyed. According to the survey, U.K. business travellers pay out of pocket for fewer charged-for amenities while travelling compared with the U.S. and Australian respondents.

The Train Traveller
Most U.K. business travellers surveyed prefer to take the train for business trips of less than 200 miles (52%). U.K. business travellers surveyed say travelling by train is a more productive use of their time as they can do work while travelling (36%) and it is more comfortable (25%) and easier (18%).

“With European high speed rail networks well established in Europe, and phase one of the HS2 from London to Birmingham progressing, rail travel is becoming an increasingly popular business travel option, as is implementing a specific business travel strategy for rail travel,” said Ms. Magesh.

The survey found that seven in ten (72%) U.K. business travellers agree that when it is convenient, they prefer to travel by train. U.K. business travellers surveyed prefer to travel by train because there is less hassle (34%) and they can be more productive (30%). Those survey respondents who do not prefer train travel say it requires too many transfers (20%) and stations are not conveniently located (18%).

While most U.K. business travellers surveyed (76%) prefer to travel by air for longer business trips of 200 miles or more, 16% still prefer the train.

The Ups and Downs of Business Travel
According to 30% of U.K. business travellers surveyed, being seated near a child or infant is the worst place on the plane to sit followed by behind someone who reclines their seat back (28%), by the toilet (12%), near someone who takes over the armrest (8%), next to someone who snores (7%), beside a talkative seatmate (6%) and next to someone who has food with a strong odour (4%).

The survey also asked business travellers to share their number one tip for surviving business travel. The majority of U.K. business travellers surveyed advised ‘Be patient and relax’. This might be useful to keep in mind as the most common items U.K. business travellers surveyed forget to pack are umbrellas (22%), phone chargers (21%), toiletries (14%) and business cards (11%).

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