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Egencia Forecast: Reasons For Optimism

September 16, 2010 By: George Dooley

Egencia, an Expedia, Inc. company, unveiled its 2011 Corporate Travel Forecast and Hotel Negotiability Index, finding that average ticket prices (ATPs) for top corporate travel destinations will remain relatively flat to slightly up and average daily rates (ADRs) will be slightly up overall in North America,


and Asia-Pacific.

New to this year’s forecast is an Advance Purchase Advisory that identifies ideal advance booking windows and potential savings for flight purchase in nearly 40 markets around the world. After a year of significant flexibility, Egencia’s Hotel Negotiability Index suggests that corporations will face a more challenging negotiating environment in 2011.

“Corporations are traveling again this year, though still below 2008 levels,” said Rob Greyber, President of Egencia. “Egencia clients - large and small - remain focused on cost containment and cost avoidance but through tools such as policy compliance, rather than the broad cuts we saw last year. We expect the modest spending rebound to continue, but careful, policy-driven governance will still be a theme in 2011.”

In North America, the current rebound in corporate travel demand will continue into 2011, pushing corporate travel prices upward. Adding to upward pressure is consolidation in the airline industry amongst United and Continental and new transatlantic alliances. On the other hand, added capacity for key corporate destinations, the growth of ancillary revenues, better utilization of special corporate fares, and lingering recession concerns are likely to contribute moderate downward pressure on ATP.

Overall, ADRs are expected to be slightly up across key cities, with a few exceptions like Houston and Phoenix where demand is not projected to increase. With very little new supply coming into the market in the short term, there is improved occupancy in most top business markets worldwide resulting in upward pricing pressure. Moderating this pressure, meetings and incentive volumes have not yet fully recovered and corporate demand is still down compared with 2008 levels.

For the North American car rental industry, U.S. rates per day (RPDs) have been decreasing through the first half of 2010 by 5 percent compared to a year prior. In the coming year, Egencia anticipates industry consolidation and tighter inventory management will push RPDs up 3 percent year-over-year in the United States. In Canada, rates will stay slightly down year-over-year into 2011.

Egencia says its exclusive Advance Purchase Advisory informs travel managers and corporate travelers of the best booking timeframe and possible savings for advance air ticket purchases. The advisory shows that, for the majority of destinations, business travelers should book three to four weeks (21-30 days) in advance to realize maximum savings. Booking in advance to Atlanta, for example, can save as much as 22 percent compared to last-minute bookings. Additional destinations where the three-week window nets significant savings are London (48 percent), Denver (26 percent), Phoenix (33 percent) and Philadelphia (31 percent).

Egencia’s Hotel Negotiability Index, an indicator of the overall supply landscape in top North American cities, suggests that 2011 will be a challenging year for corporate negotiations with preferred supply partners. The cities with the greatest challenge for rate negotiations are Atlanta, Boston and Seattle; while Calgary and Houston should maintain high negotiability.

“The hotel negotiation opportunity for travel and business decision makers is comparatively weak in 2011,” said Noah Tratt, vice president, supplier relations, Egencia Americas. “We’re advising clients to look for value by working closely with their preferred supply partners to drive traveler compliance, negotiate favorable terms and conditions and consider inclusion of valuable amenities.”

Egencia surveyed more than 500 travel buyers in North America and Europe regarding cost control measures, travel spend and expectations for 2011. According to survey respondents, 42 percent of North American buyers and 23 percent of European buyers have slightly or significantly increased travel over the last six months, compared with a slight increase of only 10 percent a year ago in October/November 2009.

The top strategies for maintaining or controlling travel costs in North America and Europe include:

*    Advanced booking of airline tickets (56 percent North America, 53 percent Europe)
*    Enforcing policy more rigorously (47 percent North America, 40 percent Europe)
*    Actively tracking unused tickets (43 percent North America, 9 percent Europe)
*    Requiring pre-trip approval (42 percent North America, 49 percent Europe)
*    Encouraging the use of web conferencing (33 percent North America, 38 percent Europe)

“Last year, the numbers painted a picture of considerable travel reduction, with 59 percent of survey respondents in 2009 acknowledging slight or significant reductions in travel, compared with only 30 percent of respondents this year,” said Tratt. “And there are further signs of optimism for investing in travel. Thirty-four percent of respondents expect travel budgets to increase in 2011, whereas only 13 percent had this expectation heading into 2010.”



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