Travel Leaders Upbeat on Business Travel for 2012

Business travel bookings will remain very solid in 2012 as nearly 77 percent of Travel Leaders’ business-focused travel agents are forecasting that bookings will match or exceed their total bookings for last year, Travel Leaders reports. The forecast comes from Travel Leaders' annual Travel Trends Survey

The survey also revealed that more business travelers are taking advantage of smart phone technology while they travel and that more of Travel Leaders’ business travel clients are purchasing “front of the plane” seats in 2012.

“The most dramatic change in our survey data, compared to a year ago, has to do with first class air travel. There are a significant number of Travel Leaders experts, who focus specifically on business travel, indicating that a greater percentage of their business travel clients are purchasing either first or business class tickets, especially on international flights. That certainly is a very hopeful sign for the economy in this country,” stated Roger E. Block, president of Travel Leaders Franchise Group.

“We are also encouraged by the data on the anticipated level of business travel in 2012. This is particularly welcome news given the ongoing economic challenges throughout the world – chiefly as it relates to euro zone countries and the impact their financial solutions may have worldwide. At this time, we are very pleased with the indicators we are seeing,” Block said.

Anticipated Level of Business Travel in 2012: When Travel Leaders business travel experts were asked, “What have your business travel clients indicated in terms of either actual bookings and/or client feedback as to the amount of travel they anticipate for 2012 compared to 2011?” the results were: 34.5 percent said booking levels will increase compared to last year while 42.3 percent said they will remain on a par with last year. Less than 5 percent said they will decline.

Electronic Boarding Passes: Electronic boarding passes are gaining in popularity among business travelers, who tend to be the early adopters among all travelers. In fact, over 97 percent of the Travel Leaders owners, managers and agents surveyed say their business travel clients use electronic boarding passes to pass through airport security. More specifically, over 81 percent say that at least 10 percent of their business travel clients use electronic boarding passes, while nearly 41 percent indicate that over 50 percent of their business travelers use electronic boarding passes.

Changes in Company Travel Policies: When Travel Leaders’ business agents were asked if they had “noticed a change in booking practices that require business travel clients to book their flights in advance,” the responses indicate a slight shift heading into the New Year: 51 percent said yes and 49 percent said no. Of those who responded “Yes,” the follow-up question asked “Are they generally required by their company to book at least 7 days / 14 days / 21 days in advance?” 53.9 percent said at least 7 days, 42.6 percent said 14 days and 3.5 percent at least 21 days.
 
First/Business Class vs. Coach: When asked “For 2012 business travel air bookings, what percentage of clients are purchasing ‘front of the cabin’?” Travel Leaders sees a significant increase from last year. 11 percent or More of Bookings in First/Business 58.9 percent; 1-10 percent of Bookings in First/Business Class 37.8 percent. When asked for the top reasons why their business travelers would fly in coach, the overwhelming number one response was “cost” (89.1%).

Conducted November 21 - December 16, 2011, the business travel trends are based on responses from 275 Travel Leaders owners, managers and frontline travel agents throughout the United States who identified that 50 percent or more of their portfolio consists of business travel clients. 

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