With Business Travel being acknowledged as an early barometer of economic performance globally, a survey of members of the Association of Corporate Travel Executive (ACTE) reveals that the global economic outlook for next year could be more optimistic than experts originally thought.

The vast majority of respondents to the '2011 Travel Spend Survey' - 64% from Europe and 70% from the US - are anticipating a greater travel spend in 2011, with most attributing this to increased travel frequency and not just higher costs – indicating that business activity will increase next year.


Moreover, 66% of European ACTE members are expecting their company's employees to travel more in 2011 than in the two previous years of the recession and more than half expect their travel spend to increase by between five and 15%. On the issue of controlling costs, the vast majority of US respondents (73%) will be encouraging, or even mandating the use of preferred vendors, with 62% encouraging or mandating booking channels; just over half encouraging or mandating the use of travel alternatives "when travel can be replaced"; and 57% encouraging or mandating hotel booking through preferred channels.The results from European respondents are broadly similar.

However, 68% say they will encourage or mandate booking at least 14 days in advance, compared with just 54% of US member respondents. According to the survey, a mere 11% of European member companies plan to control costs by "managing a previously unmanaged aspect of travel, such as corporate housing or parking", compared with 16% of those from the US, yet 38% foresee a consolidation of meeting spend - which is 11% more than those in the US.

The association's president, Chris Crowley, said: "Business travel has always been held up as a key performance indicator of any economy and the findings from the ACTE survey of members shows clearly that economic performance may well move ahead, across the globe, next year. “We intend to monitor our members, and their confidence, booking trends and general travel expenditure closely over the coming months as we watch the recovery of the world economy as business people increase their travelling and international trade picks up.”

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