Online bookings set to soar for US corporations

Three-quarters of travel managers in the US are planning to “encourage or mandate online bookings” as a key cost control measure for 2010.

US group National Business Travel Association surveyed 180 corporate travel buyer members for its 2010 US Business Travel Buyers’ Cost Forecast study.

A bigger emphasis on online bookings was the third most popular means of containing costs, beaten only by a closer look at expense claims and a more rigorous enforcement of travel policies.
Respondents revealed they were expecting better negotiated rates from their airline, hotel and car rental patners during 2010. However, a significant issue was identified when it comes to hotel rates – namely that many negotiated corporate rates could be beaten by publicly available room rates.
The average rate for a corporate room in the US in 2009 was $136, only 10% less than the previous year. The average air fare in contrast dropped by 24% year-on-year.
The study also mentioned how corporates were dealing with ancillary charges from airlines. Around a quarter said they would try to negotiate these fees with their airlines, with around one-third saying it was too complicated or not worth the bother.
Nearly three-quarters,  74%, of respondents are encouraging more bookings with low cost carriers for business trips, a 16% year-on-year increase.

Looking ahead, more than half believed there was a long-lasting change in the corporate culture when it comes to first class travel and luxury hotels for business travellers. But nearly 20% thought the current restrictions would be lifted when the economy improved.


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