NBTA Forecasts Cost Cuts in Business Travel for 2009

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) released its 2009 Business Travel Overview & Cost Forecast, which predicts increases in business travel costs and slower than usual travel industry growth. The study states that travel managers forecast an increase of 5 to 8 percent for business travel costs in 2009, and that the number of business trips will continue to expand but at a slower pace than the annual growth from 2004 through 2007.

“The expansion of the trend is the result of measures travel managers are implementing to contain travel costs during an economic downturn," said NBTA President and CEO Kevin Maguire, CCTE, GLP. "The measures vary widely from company to company. In some companies, we are already seeing major cutbacks in travel, while other companies have higher travel budgets in place for 2009. Across the board, we can expect to see some changes in the way travel is managed to further maximize value.”

NBTA’s research also predicts that travel managers will amplify their cost-containment strategies in 2009 by implementing or expanding a number of measures, including: reducing non-essential travel; enforcing new travel policy mandates; and implementing tools like eFolio hotel data, which enables automated reporting of hotel spending information in order to streamline expense reporting and flag out-of-policy spending.

In addition to trends in travel management and projections for corporate travel expenditures, the comprehensive forecast predicts rate changes for air travel, hotels, and car rentals.

For instance, published airfares are expected to increase 7-10 percent in 2009 when compared to 2008. Meanwhile, hotel rates are projected to increase only 1-4 percent, less than increases seen in recent years. NBTA predicts nominal car rental rate increases of 1-3 percent.

“Our research shows just how much the outlook varies across companies," said Bill Connors, NBTA executive director and COO. "That’s exactly why companies are turning to their travel managers to implement the best strategy to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Those companies who manage travel effectively in the coming year will clearly be better positioned than their competitors who don’t. ” 

NBTA surveyed U.S.-based travel buyer members from September 15 to October 21, 2008, and analyzed data from earlier NBTA surveys and from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, IATA, Smith Travel Research and other sources.

The complete 2009 Business Travel Forecast is available to NBTA members at www.nbta.org/Research/Surveys.