Reinforcing the meetings industry’s emphasis on the importance of face-to-face meetings, nearly two-third of respondents in a recent survey said that one of the top aspects of business travel is having such meetings with colleagues, customers, suppliers and prospects.

This was one of the key findings in the recently released American Express Business Travel Survey, which was based on online responses from 251 U.S. adults who traveled for business at least five times in the last year, including at least two trips abroad.

“Most U.S. business travelers feel that face-to-face meetings are essential to achieving their business objectives, and thus it is important that business travel must be a stress-free and seamless experience,” said Shane Berry, senior vice president of the global client group for global commercial payments at American Express. “Supporting business travelers by continuing to innovate premium travel services that encourage productivity, connectivity and relaxation can have a lasting impact on executive well-being as well as increasing their company’s bottom line.”

Consistent with the meetings’ industry’s increased emphasis on diversity, 67 percent of respondents said that experiencing new countries is one of the three personal aspects of business travel that they enjoy the most, followed by developing a wider cultural skill set (49 percent) and meeting new people (40 percent).

Survey participants recognized the challenges and preparations needed when visiting other countries and cultures. Some 46 percent of them admitted to making a cultural faux pas when traveling abroad, but other findings indicate that they are making concerted efforts to avoid them. Eighty-five percent reported doing some research before taking a business trip to a country they haven’t visited and 39 percent said they always research local business customs. Eighty-six percent said that being aware of cultural differences helps them achieve business objectives, and indicated that the most important local customs to observe are how people should be addressed (46 percent), understanding the dress code (44 percent) and being aware of nuances in communication styles (24 percent).

Here are some of the main logistical issues respondents face that can hamper productivity:

  • Seventy-seven percent said that last-minute travel are the most common problem, followed by connectivity and technology issues (61 percent) and last-minute changes to business agendas and meeting locations (60 percent).
  • Respondents reported that the most important premium provisions are traveling in business class (58 percent), access to hotel “club floors” specifically for business travelers (47 percent) and access to airport lounges (46 percent).