We are in the middle of a very busy exhibition season for business and leisure tourism and such trade and consumer shows provide a pretty good (yet non-scientific) way to gauge the mood within the leisure and MICE travel sector.
Last year at about the same time, I used research conducted by the ‘Priority Pass’ entitled: ‘Travel Policies: The Personnel Perspective’, to suggest that ‘business travel frequency’ was on the increase and this would have a knock-on effect for companies that offer low-cost but high quality ancillary travel products, such as the Priority Pass. This forecast seems to be following an upward trend and I believe leisure passengers have started to see the difference such products can make on travel.
Most interestingly, the study highlighted that out of the ‘top five’ benefits missed by the ‘500 frequent business travellers’ surveyed, much of the experience we have at the airport has a real impact on our overall impression of travelling, whether that be as a business person needing a place to recharge and work or a leisure passenger looking to set the tone of a holiday.
Throughout last year, I had a chance to go into a handful of priority pass lounges and was surprised by the number of non-business travellers present. It was more apparent than previous years and a clear indication that a sense of luxury at the start of the trip is becoming increasingly more important and can be achieved without the need to purchase a premium ticket. Certainly the figures from the Priority Pass Group reflect this demand and growth. Back in May 2014, the company announced a 15% increase in their lounge network which now stands at over 700 globally.
Airports and their security procedures have become increasingly more busy, time consuming and must be accepted as a part of modern travel. However, the prudent travel manager or indeed the discerning global traveller who focuses on making the airport experience as pleasant as possible will change the perception of making the process of getting from A to B part of the enjoyment of a trip rather than a necessary duty.
The demand is there and it seems to follow that when business travellers become more discerning so do the travel habits of leisure passengers. This is where the ‘cost versus benefit’ comparison weighs in favour of ancillary travel benefits such as lounge access. Maybe small changes and small rewards can kick-start consistent growth in the sector, which may also generate longer trips and greater potential for long-haul travel.