New age of austerity predicted for business travellers

February 10th, 2009 - 7:55 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) Business executives will make fewer, shorter and cheaper business trips in 2009 and switch from luxury extras in favour of basic efficiency and good service, a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit predicts.

“We are entering an age of visible austerity with regards to business travel,” said Antoine Medawar, managing director of the Amadeus Hospitality Business Group, said of the findings.

Amadeus, a leading provider of technology to the travel and tourism industry, commissioned the survey “The Austere traveller - the effect of corporate cutbacks on hotels”.

“With the eyes of their organisations and shareholders upon them, executives are anxious to make business trips as productive as possible.

“Forget luxury gyms, spas and restaurants; instead concentrate on efficient check-in and check-out and Internet access. Good Wi-Fi connectivity is now rated above any other luxury extra,” he added.

“There is a flight to trusted brands and the expectation of a common level of good service no matter where you are in the world,” Medawar maintained.

Fully one-fifth of the 354 executives who responded to the survey in Asia, Europe and North America thought an Internet connection was more critical than a quiet room.

Forty-seven percent of executives surveyed will be taking fewer trips in the next 12 months, and over a quarter (28 percent) expect to downgrade from 4 and 5-star hotels, the survey found.

In addition, 63 percent of respondents expect their companies to use the economic downturn to extract the best possible rates from hotels. A huge proportion of executives - 61 percent - said a trusted brand with uniform levels of service across locations would be a decisive factor when choosing a hotel in 2009.

When asked which features they simply could not do without, business travellers were impressively devoted to productivity on the road: Internet connectivity was indispensable to more business travellers (76 percent of respondents) than a quiet room (56 percent), good transport links (54 percent) and central location (52 percent).

“These findings suggest that business travellers measure value by price and guaranteed uniform service and efficiency,” an Amadeus statement said.

Respondents cited efficient check-in and check-out (68 percent), flexibility to change requirements (64 percent) and rapid resolution of problems (59 percent) as the best indicators of good hotel service.

Almost a third (29 percent) also appreciated hotels that remember their preferences.

“It is clear business travellers’ expectations are changing,” said Bill Ridgers, chief analyst for travel and tourism at the Economist Intelligence Unit.

“Economic pressure means executives care less about luxury and are instead concentrating on whether hotels deliver on the simple things.

“In an age of increasing time pressures, security fears and greater bureaucracy - when the conventional wisdom sometimes seems to be that business travel has become something of a chore - perhaps the most heartening finding of the research is that executives still enjoy and see the benefit of travelling for work,” Ridgers added.

“The current economic situation has definitely affected how travellers behave while on the road,” said Oliver Winzer, regional director and head of IT, Amadeus Hospitality Business Group, Amadeus Asia Pacific.

“Corporate expenditure such as travel and entertainment are now being scrutinised more closely. Subsequently, business travellers, especially those in Asia Pacific, are now more price-conscious than ever and spending more prudently,” he added.

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