Travel buyers to continue cost-saving in 2011 – CWT
Improving traveller compliance, optimising online adoption, driving air and ground transportation savings, and optimising hotel spend are travel buyers’ top priorities overall for 2011, according to an annual client survey conducted by Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT). Balancing these cost-saving measures, more than 30 percent of travel buyers identified enhancing the traveller experience and/or addressing safety and security needs as additional key areas of focus this year.
The report, entitled ‘Travel Management Priorities 2011: Insights into the Rebound’ – CWT’s third annual survey gauging travel buyers’ top priorities – presents findings from a survey of nearly 200 managed travel professionals worldwide, conducted during the fall of 2010. The top priorities for travel buyers in 2011, as outlined in the survey, were as follows:
1) Improving traveller compliance
2) Optimising online adoption
3) Driving air and ground transportation savings
4) Optimising hotel spend
5) Enhancing the traveller experience
6) Optimising the travel policy
7) Developing key performance indicators
8) Addressing safety and security needs
9) Further consolidating the travel programme
10) Tackling meetings and events
11) Making the program more environmentally friendly
Source: CWT Travel Management Institute
The CWT report also highlights key market developments impacting travel programmes in the coming year. Specifically, increased costs across the main areas of managed travel will present challenges for buyers, including:
– air fares are expected to moderately increase overall, as a result of higher base fares and surcharges, increased and additional ancillary fees, and new “eco-taxes” in some countries.
– hotel rates will increase overall, but the specific amount will vary considerably by region and city, as well as by category of service.
– in the ground transportation area, the cost of rail travel is likely to increase, though price increases will be limited where rail providers directly compete with airlines for business. Meanwhile, car rental prices will be contained in some markets, based on the long-term nature of negotiated corporate contracts, which are designed to win and maintain corporate business.
– an upswing in meetings and events (M&E) activity means suppliers are less likely to offer deep discounts to M&E organizers. To achieve savings, more companies will need to implement strategic meetings management programmes.
“The many travel disruptions caused by natural, political, and other external forces last year brought new and unprecedented meaning to the term ‘road warrior,'” Cathy Voss, CWT’s Executive Vice President, Global Program Solutions, commented. “We are all increasingly aware of the potential stresses of being a business traveler; in 2011, companies will introduce technology to enhance the traveler experience and will look at additional ways to ensure safety and security.”
At the same time, Voss acknowledged that travel buyers will experience continued pressure to limit cost increases for their organisations. While this may seem like a daunting task given the widespread cost increases CWT identified in its report, Voss shared that well-run travel programmes can mitigate these increases in a number of ways. Consequently, effective travel management will be as important as ever in 2011.
Price increases are expected to be seen across most travel programmes, creating tougher negotiations overall. Further, CWT anticipated ongoing challenges for travel buyers as recent developments in the distribution landscape leave the future efficiency of access to airline content, and therefore the associated costs, uncertain. When discussing deals with preferred suppliers, travel buyers are advised, as always, to look beyond price and consider aspects such as ancillary fees being charged by many airlines, hoteliers, and ground transportation providers, last-room hotel availability, and suppliers’ sustainability practices.
The full report Travel Management Priorities 2011: Insights into the Rebound is available at www.carlsonwagonlit.com.