CWT Reports Drop in Transactions, Sales

Key performance indicators for Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), a global leader specializing in business travel management, testify to the unusual challenges the travel industry and most other businesses confronted during the global recession of 2009. While sales volume declined, the proportion of “satisfied” and ”very satisfied” travel managers rose, CWT said.

Total CWT transactions for 2009 were down 9.3 percent compared to 2008. Sales volume, which totaled $21.4 billion, fell 22.8 percent year over year. The higher drop in volume versus transactions demonstrates the aggressive cost-cutting measures companies took to reduce their travel spend and was seen in all regions, CWT said.

Volume in Asia Pacific and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) was impacted most, declining by 27.6 percent and 27.1 percent respectively. In Latin America, volume declined 21.2 percent year over year, while North America saw a 17.4-percent decrease over the same period.

CWT reported annualized new sales, excluding renewals, of $1.86 billion for 2009, a year that saw an unusually high number of companies ascertain competitive market conditions by putting their managed travel programs out for bid. CWT also enjoyed a 96 percent client retention rate. Furthermore, the proportion of “satisfied” and “very satisfied” travel managers increased to 94 percent in 2009 from 90 percent one year earlier.

Describing the economic environment in 2009 as “extraordinary,” Douglas Anderson, CWT president and CEO, said: “Carlson Wagonlit Travel, like every other company in the travel industry, confronted unique challenges in 2009. We successfully managed unprecedented change and worked our way through a global recession the likes of which none of us has ever seen. Our commitment to excellence and the highest levels of customer service never wavered. We also enhanced our offering to respond to clients’ evolving needs. These efforts will serve us well in the year ahead and enable CWT to reinforce its global leadership in what will continue to be a challenging business environment."

Having seen the company’s business stabilize at the end of 2009, Anderson said he remains “ cautiously optimistic” about the next 12 months. He points to lingering economic uncertainty in some countries and potentially “soft” GDP growth overall. “Many of our clients tell us they will increase their travel this year to drive their business development. But they will remain cost-conscious and place great importance on ‘productive’ travel. CWT will do everything it takes to successfully accompany them in this value-driven effort.”

In 2010 CWT said will continue to focus on increasing efficiency at the point of sale and reinforce its strategy for driving online adoption. Helping clients optimize their hotel spend by implementing a well-designed, well-sourced hotel program that drives compliance also remains high on the company’s agenda. Delivering innovative products and services that enable business travelers to be well informed and more productive from booking through return is another top priority for CWT.

As companies strive to bridge their transient travel programs and their meetings and events for greater control and savings, CWT will continue to deploy its multi-tier, end-to-end Meetings & Events solutions worldwide. Furthermore, the CWT Travel Management Institute is currently conducting in-depth research that will enable companies to optimize the management of their meetings and events program. Expanding CWT’s already robust Energy Services offering is a key priority as well. “CWT is well positioned to meet its objectives,” Anderson concluded. “Our people have the know-how and the spirit that spell customer satisfaction and success.”