Orbitz for Business Year End Survey


You can always count on Orbitz for Business to find out all the dirt on business travel trends. The year end survey recaps the trends of 2009 and offers predictions for the coming year. With prices on just about everything up in 2008, it’s no surprise businesses were thinking outside the box to cut travel costs. How so? By making one day business trips, staying at more economical hotels and sending fewer employees to trade shows and conferences.

What do we have to look forward to next year? More business travel. Despite what my old boss though, a whopping 92% of respondents believe it is important to conduct business in person. I couldn’t agree more. Sixteen percent of those would go so far as to call it “critical.” However, only a little over half of those surveyed are planning to travel the same amount or more in 2009 as they did in 2008.

In 2008

  • 71% of business travelers say they’ve traveled more or about the same in 2008 as they did a year ago.
  • 79% of travelers say they’ve felt pressure to curb their travel expenses during the course of 2008, with an additional 55 percent having to make further cuts in the past three months.
  • 51% of those surveyed say they have scaled back but are still traveling, while 39% say they are keeping up the pace. Only 6% of respondents’ companies have implemented a freeze on travel while 4% are traveling more.
  • 50% of respondents said they had tried videoconferencing when asked about alternatives to travel. Unfortunately for the people in the videoconferencing industry, 85% of those surveyed say they don’t feel videoconferencing is or would be as productive as an in-person meeting, with just 1% responding that it is or would be more productive. That 1% is probably paying their own bills.
  • 24% percent of business travelers said they had to share a hotel room in 2007, either as a practice or on occasion, when traveling on business. In 2008 that number dropped to just 14% say they now share hotel rooms with co-workers or colleagues. I love my coworkers dearly, but there is no way in hell I would be willing to share a room with any one of them on a business trip. No thanks.
  • 56% of travelers say the most important criteria when selecting a hotel for business travel is location, with 25% responding that price is the main driver and 15% (points junkies) rating brand as the deciding factor.
  • 80% of respondents said they have had no change to their company’s per diem spending policy in the past six months

What about the airline cutbacks?

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  • 47% now book further in advance whenever possible
  • 43% are now more price conscious and concerned about having to pay higher airfares
  • 17% say their companies have taken measures to discourage last-minute bookings
  • 11% are choosing to drive to their destination more frequently rather than fly

“In 2008, our survey revealed an emerging trend of business travelers changing their behaviors in light of the recession, traveling differently by becoming more cost conscious,” said Dean Sivley, senior vice president and COO, Orbitz for Business. “We can expect corporate travel managers to exert continued pressure on employees with travel policies focused on cost savings, like booking flights farther in advance, staying in lower class hotels and renting fuel efficient vehicles.”

What’s next?

  • 55% of business travelers say they are planning to travel as much or more than they did in 2008.
  • As stated above, when asked how important maintaining travel frequency is to overall productivity and business success, 76% say that it is important, with 16% labeling it as “critical.”
  • Regarding newly implemented airline fees like premium costs for aisle or window seats, 34% of respondents believe their employers will not allow for such “upgrades.” Twenty-four percent say it is allowable, while 42% are unsure.
  • 31% of respondents say they will be required to squeeze in more work and more meetings per business trip compared to this past year.

Pretty grim.

METHODOLOGY

The Orbitz for Business/Business Traveler Magazine Trend Report was conducted online from 8/19/08 through 8/27/08, through a MarketTools survey of 612 Business Traveler Magazine subscribers.