Business travel is not all it’s cracked up to be, according to new research by Mintel.

The study found that just a quarter (27%) of business travellers have been fully reimbursed for company trips and 22% say they often work longer hours whilst away on business.

Just 19% of travellers have been reimbursed for time spent travelling outside normal hours. 

Overall, some 14% of these travellers say they would be unhappy if their company made them take more trips, while almost one in ten (8%) – equating to more than 850,000 workers – admit that business trips cause a strain on their relationships with family, partner or friends.

The research – covering 1,284 people – found that 18% of employees who have taken a business trip in the last 12 months say that their company opted for budget travel options.

Meanwhile, some 16% of business travellers say their company is stricter in enforcing travel policy than it used to be. Just 6% say that their company is prepared to pay extra for a premium service, while less than one in five (17%) business travellers say their company lets employees choose travel options.

Some 14% say they have shared a room with a work colleague.

While the report highlights some of the downsides to business travel, some three in ten (30%) business travellers admit that business trips offer a welcome change from everyday work life – an attitude which drops to a quarter (26%) of parents.

Those without children (38%) are significantly more likely to prefer to stay overnight rather than travel twice in one day, compared to 29% with children.

And while there is a significant demand for mixing business with pleasure, few have combined the two. Some 24% of business travellers would like to extend business trip to include leisure time but just 13% have done so.

Around 20% would like to bring along their partner or family but just 12% have been able to do so. Only 8% of employers allow staff to extend business trips to include leisure, and just 5% pay for employees to bring their family or partner. 

Mintel travel and tourism analyst Harry Segal said:
“While respondents may have different views over what ‘fully reimbursed’ constitutes, it is a fair assumption that the majority of business travellers feel out of pocket at the end of a business trip.

“With a sizeable proportion of business travellers claiming that they work longer hours and that business trips are putting a strain on their relationships, companies looking to get the best out of employees in the time they are away should perhaps take note of where negative implications are occurring.”

He added: “These findings suggest that there is scope for brands to better incentivise business travellers to demand an ad-hoc change of policy from their employers.

“As companies cut back on premium travel options, the line between traditional business travel and consumer travel will become increasingly blurred.

“Low-cost airlines are keen to gain share in the business travel market, as shorter lead times in the booking process often mean higher ticket prices compared to holidaymakers.”