July 16, 2013

Staying in touch with home is top priority for business travelers


There really is no place like home, unless it’s a hotel which offers free internet connection according to new research from InterContinental Hotels Group which has found that being able to connect online with family and friends is now the top priority for travelers.

The global research was commissioned to mark the launch this month of IHG’s renamed loyalty programme, IHG® Rewards Club. It reveals that not being able to contact home due to lack of internet connection is now the biggest travel headache for people away on business, cited by 40% of travellers as their biggest stress factor, ahead of difficult transport links (26%) and noisy location (24%).

The research covered 10,000 people who travel for business worldwide. It is helping IHG to understand hotel guests’ priorities when travelling, as it becomes the first and only hotel group to offer free internet access globally to all its loyalty members. This new benefit started with Elite members at the beginning of July and will roll out to all members from 2014, whether they are staying the night at a hotel or coming in for a coffee or impromptu meeting.

Other findings underline the importance of internet access:

- 61% of those surveyed said that internet was the most important additional facility in their hotel room above TV (17%); bath (5%); fridge (3%) and mini bar (1%).

- Logging onto the internet in their room when they first arrive topped the list of things that help travellers feel most at home in their hotel room (31%), above exploring the room (25%), taking a hot shower (14%) or even unpacking (13%).

- Nearly two thirds (64%) of travellers say that they would prefer to communicate with people back home over the internet rather than using the phone.

- Over half of parents (53%) surveyed cited connecting with family at home as the best way to de-stress at the end of a working day.

- 89% said that free internet would make them happier whilst travelling away for business.

- And, nearly two thirds of respondents, (65%), would be very unhappy travelling if they had no way of connecting with loved ones back home.

Relationship expert, Jenni Trent Hughes explains:

"Just hearing a voice on a telephone is no longer sufficient for the 21st century traveller, we need the comfort of being able to see loved ones too. We want to see our children’s smiles when we’re reading them their bedtime story over Skype; be able to look our partner in the eye when we tell them how much we miss them, as well as keep up with all our social media obligations and emails.

We now believe that when staying away from home, being connected with a minimum fuss and maximum ease is crucial for keeping our various relationships ticking over. When these expectations aren't met, we feel anxious and frustrated so it’s no wonder that nowadays many of us can't relax until we are safely checked-in and logged-on.”

Richard Solomons, Chief Executive, IHG, said:

“We understand how important it is for our guests to be able to stay in touch whilst travelling. That’s why, alongside great existing benefits such as points that never expire, we have introduced free internet for our members as part of IHG Rewards Club. These leading benefits are why IHG Rewards Club has been chosen by more travellers than any other hotel loyalty programme worldwide.