Airline pricing ‘main business travel concern’

Business travel is set to grow in 2015
Business travel is set to grow in 2015

Challenges around air travel ancillaries and price increases are the main cause of concern for European business travel buyers this year, according to a new survey.

While a third told the Business Travel Show they are expected to have more money to spend this year, airline pricing was voted as their biggest concern.

This was predominantly focused around cost increases, lack of transparency and negotiation concerns although it is also affecting the industry in other ways.

“The biggest issue facing me as a buyer in 2015 is managing the airline category thanks to ancillary fees, NDC and changes in traffic flow,” said Ruediger Bruss, purchasing manager at Continental.

The 179 buyers surveyed listed cost control and compliance as their second and third largest concerns, followed by increase hotel rates and traveller safety.

That said, 36% saw an increase in airline budget last year and a further third predict this will include again. A quarter (26%) revealed plans to use low-cost carriers more but another 9% will not use them at all. At the other end of the scale 38% bought fewer business class seats in 2014, and 23% will only do so if the flight is longer than eight hours.

“This year’s survey shows budgets are continuing to head in the right direction, which is great news and in line with predictions from the GBTA that Europe will enjoy a 5% increase in business travel spend this year,” said BTS event director David Chapple. “But there is no doubt that buyers are still under pressure to buy smarter, negotiate harder and stretch their budgets for maximum results.”

The use of budget hotels is more common with all buyers using cheaper accommodation, although 82% said it accounts for less than half of bookings. Serviced apartments are also still not used prolifically within some firms, with 84% using them for less than 10% of room nights.

Around 45% of buyers expect to manage more trips this year, down slightly from 48% that thought so the same time last year for 2014.

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