Fewer Airline Fees Reimbursed

As airlines continue to introduce additional fees, corporations are reimbursing travelers for fewer ancillaries compared to last year, according to a new survey by GetThere in its 12th annual GetThere Corporate Travel Benchmark Survey. Average air and hotel ticket prices are also up, GetThere - a Sabre-Holdings company - says.

Notably, 78 percent are reimbursing for a first checked bag, compared to 95 percent in 2010. Reimbursement for on-board food and beverage dropped by 11 points to 42 percent, while Wi-Fi dropped by only one point to 50 percent, GetThere said.

“Companies told us they are reimbursing for fewer airline fees. However, employees are not necessarily being stuck with the bill,” said Suzanne Neufang, general manager of GetThere. “Many corporations are likely negotiating away some of the ancillary fees charged by airlines and establishing firm travel policies around what they will and will not pay for.”

Comparing 2011 travel fares with current prices, GetThere also reports that corporations are paying significantly more for air and hotel segments while car rental prices are slightly decreased.
    •    Average Air Ticket Prices (roundtrip) are up five percent compared to 2011
    •    Average Hotel Rates (per night) are up four percent compared to 2011
    •    Average Car Rental Rates (per day) are down one percent compared to last year

Average online adoption rates for GetThere customers increased for the 11th consecutive year. In North America, respondents to the benchmark survey averaged 80 percent online adoption, up two percentage points from 2010. GetThere’s average adoption is well ahead of the industry average of 58 percent, based on a 2011 PhoCusWright Corporate Travel Manager Survey.

GetThere customers achieved significant savings in 2011 including:
    •    15 percent air savings domestically, or $78 per tickets
    •    16 percent hotel savings domestically, $26 per room night
    •    6 percent car savings domestically, or $2 per daily rental
    •    45 percent savings on fulfillment fees by booking online, or $15 per transaction

Mobile continues to be invaluable, GetThere says. The mobile space continues to be a growth space for the travel industry and for the third straight year, respondents ranked obtaining flight information as the most important feature of a mobile solution. Booking flights was ranked as the second most important feature and flight check-in third.

“Many would assume that travelers use their mobile devices first to check flight information, then to book hotels if they are stuck at an airport or have a change of plans. However, business travelers are on the go all of the time and are not just using the mobile device for last-minute bookings like leisure travelers,” says Neufang. “Business travelers are more likely to rely on mobile devices for nearly all aspects of a trip – from planning and booking to sharing and reporting.”

GetThere notes it currently offers full mobile shopping and booking capabilities for air and hotel within company policy and preferences.

Virtual meetings are part of travel policy, the study shows. Forty percent of respondents indicated they currently offer video conferencing options as part of their travel policy. Nineteen percent said they plan to integrate virtual meetings with travel this year.

More than a third of respondents said they will spend more on travel in 2012, GetThere says. Furthermore, 75 percent said their travel budgets will increase this year. The number one reason companies plan to spend more is because of company growth and expansions (24 percent), followed by more trips (22 percent) and more international trips (18 percent). Respondents reported the largest planned increases in travel for APAC and Latin America.

The Corporate Travel Benchmark Report is based on a survey of 40 leading companies and organizations that currently use GetThere. GetThere reports it is surpassing $9 billion in annual bookings.

Visit www.getthere.com

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