The 9th International Travel Management Study by AirPlus provides up-to-the-minute data from 24 countries. Travel managers expect little change in volume but rising costs. “Health and well-being” was identified as the trend that has the strongest influence on travel management.
LONDON – A growing number of travel managers worldwide (42 per cent) expect business travel costs to go up in 2014. Travel volume forecasts remain largely unchanged as compared with previous years: 31 per cent expect a rise in the number of business trips, and a majority of 53 per cent expect no change in 2014. These are the key results of the International Travel Management Study 2014 by AirPlus International. This ninth consecutive study is seen as a barometer in the travel sector, and provides valuable information on the annual development in both global and local trends in business travel. For the present study, international market research company 2hm interviewed a total of 958 travel managers in 24 countries in the third quarter of 2013.
“Despite major regional differences, this trend from previous years remains stable, and points to sustained recovery of the business travel market,” says Patrick Diemer, Chairman of the Management Board at AirPlus International. “If we look at the development in travel spend, we can see the growing importance of professional travel management to control travel costs.” For the first time, AirPlus asked survey participants not just to estimate travel behavior, but also to judge the influence that mega-trends in corporate social responsibility and technology have on their work. “Health and well-being” was identified as the trend that has the strongest influence on travel management, according to 50 per cent of interviewees, closely followed by technology developments.
Growth strongest in emerging economies – biggest rise in costs for air travel
Whereas one third of all travel managers worldwide expect business travel volumes to increase, expectations differ widely in the various markets and regions. Travel managers in Turkey take the most positive view of the year ahead. 73 per cent of them stated that more business trips will be taken in 2014, as compared with 50 per cent last year. Their counterparts in other emerging markets too, such as Brazil (60 per cent), India (53 per cent) and South Africa (47 per cent), share this optimistic view. The situation is different in countries that are still beset by the economic crisis. In Spain, for example, a larger proportion of travel managers expect a decrease in business travel.
When it comes to the expected rise in travel costs, air travel is the category for which most travel managers worldwide believe they will pay more next year (39 per cent). This is followed by 34 per cent for hotels, 24 per cent for meetings and conferences, and 22 per cent in the car rentals category.
Health and well-being influence travel management
For the first time, participants in the International Travel Management Study were asked about the influence that current mega-trends have on business travel. Among seven mega-trends in the fields of corporate social responsibility and technology, travel managers give most weight to the aspect of “health and well-being” (50 per cent), followed by “environmental awareness” (49 per cent), “the outernet” and “the data era” (47 per cent in both cases), as well as “third place working” (41 per cent). “Women’s empowerment” and “the aging society” have slight influence on travel management.
Higher than average number of German travel managers expect higher costs
At 31 per cent of respondents, Germany corresponds exactly to the global average of those who expect higher travel volumes, and is slightly above the European average. “This positive mood is closely related to the fact that economic growth is picking up in Germany,” Diemer explains. On the other hand, German travel managers are concerned by travel costs. 59 per cent of travel managers here expect higher expenditure, more than in any other of the industrialised nations interviewed for the study. Since this value exceeds the envisaged rise in travel volume, this concern is probably due to the expected higher prices for tickets and overnight accommodation.
German travel managers put “environmental awareness” first among the trends that will affect travel management. That comes as no surprise, given Germany’s tradition of environmental consciousness. Many companies in the Federal Republic have long focused on this topic, and travel managers in many large corporations already evaluate their travel-related emissions. Respondents nevertheless believe that this subject will continue to be relevant in years to come.
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