A Travelport study has revealed that 55% of US business travelers are willing to pay for travel upgrades out of their own pocket and 80% prefer to have direct control over their plans.

While the majority of those surveyed would use their own money or loyalty points to pay for airline seat, hotel, car hire and Wi-Fi upgrades, 85.7% said their companies cover the cost of ancillaries like inflight Wi-Fi, additional bags and meals.

Business travelers also want to know what products are on offer, with 70% saying that they want to receive personalized advertising, based on their previous purchase history and interests.

Fast-track security and border clearance products were popular, with 85% belonging to schemes like TSA Precheck and Global Entry, even though 16.8% said their companies do not reimburse them for these services.

The desire for personal choice also came through in terms of booking flexibility. “More than 80% agree they would like to work for an organization that allows them to book travel directly and which allows automated, digital expense reporting,” Travelport said.

A further positive for airlines is that travel spends are increasing, with 57% saying that their 2018 business-travel budget has increased year-on-year. Only 4% reported a reduced budget for 2018.

Schedules continue to be the number-one driver for choosing an airline (28.8%), followed by direct flights (19.5%), frequent-flyer benefits (14%), amenities (12.6%), cost saving (12.3%) and work-life balance (11.6%).

The survey also revealed that 83% view business travel as a perk and almost 90% are allowed by their companies to keep their frequent-flyer points for personal use.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@informa.com