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2 March 2012 | Paul Snell
Business travel purchasers are moving away
from negotiated corporate deals with suppliers, even though the process of
buying is becoming more professional.
According to a survey of 1,701 travel
buyers conducted on behalf of AirPlus, there is less appetite
for agreed deals in favour of spot purchases. The poll revealed both a fall in
the number of companies with corporate rates for air travel - from 59 per cent
to 54 per cent. There was also a reduction in the average savings achieved through
negotiation, from 18.5 per cent in 2011 to 15.1 per cent this year.
“This surprised us because the more
professional you are and the more data you have, the more corporate deals you
can strike,” said Patrick Diemer, chairman of AirPlus. “Spot buying is
increasingly gaining ground in our trade.”
The rise of a more professional process
included the introduction of travel policies - up 11 per cent since 2008;
analysis of travel spend - a rise of 4 per cent; a 6 per cent increase in the
use of corporate cards and 11 per cent of firms converting to electronic
The poll also found business travel volumes
returning to levels seen before the financial crisis in 2008. Companies are now
not willing to cut back on travel, as they see it as a way to increase growth.
But there was bad news about prices, with
rises predicted in most categories. The average cost of a flight rose from £409
in 2010 to £429 last year, and the cost of a hotel stay rose from an average of
£213 to £220. The average cost of a plane ticket increased partly because of a
2 per cent rise in the number of business class tickets purchased. “Trips will
remain the same but 40 per cent [of buyers] expect to pay more,” said Diemer.