What does 2011 look like for business travellers?

By John Walton, February 8 2011
What does 2011 look like for business travellers?

Firming up your business travel plans for the rest of 2011? Global travel management firm Carlson Wagonlit Travel has released their trend analysis for Australian travel and made some predictions for the rest of the year, with some useful advice for keeping the costs down.

In short: airfares and hotel rates are both tipped to rise, and business travel is back in a big way.

"The global economy came out of recession early last year, signaling the return of growth in business travel. In Australia, CWT bookings increased over 10% in 2010 from 2009 levels, and we are now trading at similar levels to pre GFC," Mike Orchard, CWT Director of Sales for Australia & New Zealand told Australian Business Traveller.

"Apart from cost savings, attention to improving the travel experience and traveller safety is high on the list in 2011," Orchard emphasised. 

CWT's projections for air travel, based on a survey of travel managers, show rebounding demand for business travel, though perhaps not for business class:

  • 2 – 7% increases (depending on the route & class) in the cost of air travel due to higher fares and surcharges from airlines as well as the more widespread introduction of ancillary fees (e.g. seating choice, carry-on bags, live TV access)
  • restricted fare availability is likely to be more scarce – travellers will need to book earlier to continue to make strong savings in this area
  • continued usage of Premium Economy and economy is expected vs. Business Class as the trend over the GFC to "downtrade" has not reversed

Hotels are likely to become more expensive for the business traveller, especially in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth:

  • Initial submitted rates for 2011 were up 5% on 2011 but varied significantly by location and across hotel categories.
  • The significant upswing in demand has enabled hotels to impose 5 – 10% increases in rates this year in key cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.  
  • Increases were more moderate in other Australian cities

There's good news for business travellers renting cars, though: CWT says "costs are forecast to ease in some markets".

CWT's Mike Orchard was surprised that a green eco-focus wasn't higher on the list: "The only surprising data to come out of the report was that of all the travel managers surveyed only 11% say making the travel program more environmentally friendly was a top priority. We still see many of our clients being concerned with this and requiring sustainability reporting."

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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