Business travel spend rises, but austerity continues

11 May 2011

11 May 2011 | Angeline Albert

Companies continue to drive cost savings in business travel, even though budgets and spending are now rising following the recession.

Firms are increasingly adopting tools for online booking to cut costs, according to the GetThere Corporate Travel Benchmark survey of travel managers at 60 organisations. The research also found 61 per cent of respondents expected their travel budgets to increase by as much as 10 per cent this year.

“Even though the economy is rebounding and business travel is growing, corporations are using the lessons learned during the recession to continue to push for cost savings in their travel programmes,” said Suzanne Neufang, general manager of travel management software vendor GetThere.

Respondents reported that booking travel online achieved average savings of 70 per cent on agency fees, 18 per cent on international air fares and 24 per cent on domestic. Reductions of 12 per cent and 31 per cent were realised for domestic and international hotel rates respectively. And for car rental, savings were 4 per cent at home and 18 per cent internationally.

The survey found executive support was the most effective way to increase take-up of online booking tools, followed by making their use mandatory.

It also revealed companies are now considering ancillary charges imposed by airlines in more detail in their travel policies compared to the previous year. The number of businesses reimbursing staff last year for on-board food and drinks grew by 13 per cent in 2010 compared with 2009. Reimbursement for on-board wi-fi charging increased by 20 per cent, with the growth attributed to a realisation by travel managers that this is a valuable business tool.

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