A recent survey of business travelers by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) showed that 71 percent plan to spend less on travel this year than in 2008. This is a change from the findings by ACTE in September 2008 when 33 percent of those responding said that they planned to cut back. Also in September, 36 percent said that they would be spending more–that number has now decreased to a mere eight percent.
“There are a number of reasons for this change,” said ACTE Executive Director Susan Gurley. “The continued drop in U.S. consumer confidence has a profoundly negative effect on demand, which causes increases in layoffs and joblessness. Lack of demand causes a slump in manufacturing, which in turn creates a slowdown in global commerce. This has a massive trickledown effect on business travel. Among the hundreds of thousands of layoffs reported in the U.S. alone, there are literally thousands of business travelers now removed from business travel circulation.”
ACTE estimates that with most companies spending 10 to 20 percent less this year, that equates to about $880 million less spent on travel this year than the corporate travel executives had originally planned. Furthermore, ACTE member interest in electronic travel alternatives has risen from 32 percent in 2008 to the current 50 percent, making it the number one ranked priority this year.
Another survey, this one of 354 executives worldwide commissioned by Amadeus and conducted by Economist Intelligence Unit, found that 47 percent of those surveyed said that they plan to take fewer trips over the next 12 months and about 28 percent said they expect to stay in a four-star hotel instead of the usual five-star, but that they would not go so far as to stay in a budget or non-branded hotel.
And yet another study, this one from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), reported that first and business class traffic on international routes has fallen. According to IATA CEO Giovanni Bisignani, 2009 “is shaping up to be one of the toughest years ever for international aviation … and the bottom is nowhere in sight.”
Also of interest, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics reported that U.S. airlines eliminated almost 28,000 jobs in 2008.