Now in it’s eleventh year, the AirPlus International Travel Management Study asks travel managers in no fewer than 24 countries how they view business travel prospects for the 12 months ahead. For the first time we have sought the views of business travellers too.
It turns out the opinions of both groups are remarkably similar. For example, 36 per cent of both UK travel managers and travellers expect more trips in 2016, while 5 per cent of travel managers and 8 per cent of travellers think there will be fewer. Likewise, 44 per cent of UK travel managers forecast higher travel spend in 2016, as do 40 per cent of travellers.
A year of optimism – but watch out for costs
Another consistent picture to emerge is that British travel managers and travellers are well ahead of their peers in Western Europe and even globally in expecting more trips (and more spend) in 2016. Since business travel and GDP growth are strongly linked, these findings are consistent with the UK economy outperforming most other industrialised nations over the past year.
Expansion of business activity is welcome news, of course, but no company wants to see its travel spend spiral out of control as a result. Quite rightly, UK travel managers identify hotels as their biggest area of cost concern this year. Air fares are largely stable at present, thanks in part to low oil prices, so I expect to see travel managers making accommodation their number one supplier management objective in 2016. Tighter policy control, better use of corporate payments and a drive for more detailed hotel data are all likely to be on the agenda.
Managing cost while maintaining quality will undoubtedly be an issue this year, but there are plenty of good tools – and talent – available to tackle this critical challenge for travel managers.
To get your copy of the International Travel Management study, visit us on stand B430 at the Business Travel Show 2016. AirPlus is a leading specialist in corporate payment solutions.With 25 years experience we offer products to over 40,000 customers worldwide including corporate cards, centrally billed accounts, virtual card solutions and expert reporting tools.