Corporate travel takes off again

CORPORATE travel trends for the Asia Pacific region indicate that companies are starting to slowly spread their wings and resume long-haul travel.

While demand on key corporate routes to destinations in the US and Europe remains sluggish, early indications, particularly in April and May, now show businesses in Asia Pacific are starting to travel outside the region again.

The return to long-haul flying is one of a number of corporate travel trends to come out of an industry wrap-up of the first quarter of 2009, conducted by travel management consultancy FCm Travel Solutions.

FCm data shows corporates are also closely scrutinising travel programs and modifying their preferred hotel programs to include more 3.5 and four-star hotels.

Businesses shifting to lower rated properties are requesting more inclusions such as free-wireless and discounted dining.

SMEs that have embraced an ‘open skies policy’ for air travel have been able to reduce the average price of airline tickets by as much as 15 per cent on key domestic and intra-Asia travel.

FCm Travel Solutions executive general manager Australia Shannon O’Brien, says one of the trends to emerge from the 2009 first quarter had been the massive savings that corporates have achieved as a result of changes made late last year to corporate travel programs.

“The impact of the global financial crisis has forced many companies to revise their travel programs and corporate travel culture to ensure the same level of travel for less money,” says O’Brien.

“During September and November of 2008, travel policies were revised in two ways which resulted in more travellers using economy class and directives included in travel programs to consider more cost effective alternatives.
“We are seeing more business travellers taking accountability for their travel spend and managing their travel needs in a smarter fashion to ensure they can do the same number of trips and contain costs.

“These policy changes combined with the current climate of discounted rates are yielding significant savings for our clients.”
Other areas of corporate travel programs that have come under review this year have been corporate deals with airlines, hotels and cars.

Corporates have focused on maximising value for money on supplier products and services and renegotiating products due to downgraded air class travel and hotel accommodation.

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