Travel buyers forecast 'frugal' class travel

15 October 2010
15 October 2010 | Angeline Albert

The UK’s ‘age of austerity’ in business travel may be here to stay, according to buyers surveyed by American Express Business Travel.

Purchasers from 83 UK-based procurement teams said frugal business travel policies may last for two or three years or could even be the blueprint for the future. Of the 96 buyers quizzed in September, only 13 said the austerity measures would end in a year.    

In total, American Express surveyed more than 500 managing directors, financial decision-makers and individuals from procurement teams in the UK.

When business travellers were asked about their trips, most said they were still travelling the same amount as in the 2002-2007 boom times, but that they were seeking to drive down cost.  

The top five business travel cost cutting measures firms implemented include offering staff more video conference and telephone conference facilities, asking staff to take public transport rather than taxis, removing business and first-class travel for flights under a certain number of hours, and downgrading hotel choices. Another suggestion was to fly business class out to meeting (to be fresh for work), but economy on the way home.

More than a quarter of firms (27 per cent) have asked staff for their ideas on how they could save business travel costs and improve efficiencies.  

Their ideas included rationalising each meeting to ensure there is a return on the travel investment, calculating mileage credits based on sales made, downgrading hotels and flights and hiring cars instead of using taxis for stays or more than one day

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