Nine in 10 Americans have a "work family" and, as a result, feel happier, according to those polled in a conducted by Choice Hotels in support of its corporate travel focus. They also agree that traveling with colleagues enables them to connect on a personal level. Further findings show:

* 86% of Americans keep in touch with former colleagues.

* 59% of those surveyed agree that they spend either the same amount or more time with their work colleagues as they do with their families at home.

* More than 75% of people would rather travel with colleagues than solo when traveling for business.

* Almost 65% of people consider work relationships as important as their relationships at home.

"Strong relationships with co-workers are key to professional growth and fulfillment at every career stage," said Rachel DeAlto, Relationship Expert and Comfort Hotels spokesperson. "They can evolve into mentorships, open doors, expand an individual's network, and lead to more opportunities. Business travel provides an opportunity to build these relationships in a fresh environment with unique experiences that differ from employees' day-to-day interactions with each other."

The study, released just ahead of this year's Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention, noted that 90% of American business travelers agree that work trips build stronger professional relationships. Nearly half of respondents would select an activity at their hotel to help form these bonds, the most popular of which are "grabbing a drink at the hotel bar" and "eating breakfast together at the hotel."

Comfort Campaign

Choice is running a new nationwide advertising campaign to that end, featuring the tagline "Our Business is You" with an aim to provide what business travelers want and need — while making it easy for corporate travel managers to do their jobs:

• Cambria Hotels: Purposefully designed for the time-starved, modern business traveler, Choice's upscale Cambria Hotels brand is rapidly expanding in major business hubs nationwide and is fast approaching 50 hotels open in top-tier markets. Cambria Hotels offers a full bar and bistro with dining featuring freshly prepared food, locally sourced craft beer and signature cocktails — providing business travelers with the perfect setting to forge bonds with their colleagues.

• Comfort Hotels: The widely available properties are ready to welcome business travelers everywhere they need to be — and allow them to bond over the brand's trademark complimentary, hearty and healthy breakfast. Comfort is steadily progressing on a systemwide renovation that has resulted in updated guest rooms, refreshed public spaces, and a new, modern logo — signaling to guests on the outside of the hotel that something's new on the inside.  

• Custom-built technology: Choice Hotels has invested heavily in developing technology that makes it easy to do business. In addition to being the first hotel company to offer Virtual Pay on its consumer-facing website — allowing corporate travel managers to book reservations using a centralized form of payment without having to supply each traveler with a physical card or provide an authorization form — Choice rolled out a Group Management Platform to simplify the process of planning and booking group travel.  

The Comfort brand has more than 300 properties in its pipeline, 80 percent of which are new construction. More than 40 Comfort hotels are expected to open this year in major cities, like Dallas; Nashville, Tenn.; Pittsburgh; San Antonio; and San Diego. The brand is on pace to open more than one hotel per week in 2019.

Call-out benefits include:

- Modern guestrooms with premium pillows, bedding and bath amenities

- Meeting space and catering service for up to 52 people

- Open lobbies with space to work and socialize

- Complimentary healthy breakfast, featuring the brand's signature waffles, eggs, breakfast meats, pastries, yogurt, and fresh coffees and teas

- Free Wi-Fi and business centers

- 24-hour fitness center

- 100% smoke-free facilities