Business travel agencies 'optimistic' about bookings
About 80 percent of travel agents who serve business clients reported that corporate executives will be flying the friendly skies as much, or even more, this year as they did last year.
That’s one of the findings from a month-long survey of travel professionals that was completed by the Travel Leaders Group this winter. The company has offices in Grand Rapids, Holland and Spring Lake.
The survey received responses from 335 agency owners, managers and agents nationwide. The respondents represented agencies that get at least half of their portfolio bookings from business travelers.
“Over 77 percent of our business-travel experts polled indicated they were optimistic about their business heading into 2013, while another 18 percent stated they were neutral about the coming year,” said Barry Liben, CEO of the Travel Leaders Group.
Less than 10 percent felt their business bookings would decline this year.
“Finding ways to trim costs and save on business travel are still paramount, and business travelers who use a corporate travel management company have a distinct advantage, because they can travel more frequently as they contain costs on each individual trip,” added Liben, whose firm averages about $18 billion in sales annually.
The survey indicates that flights being delayed, limited airline seating and the ease, or difficulty, of getting through airport security are the top three concerns business travelers.
Waivers and favors, help with tracking a flight, using non-refundable tickets and financial reporting are the agency services that business travelers feel are the most valuable to them.
Airline fees are also a big issue with executives, most notably charges for changing flights, baggage checking and seat assignments. Fees for hotel parking and Internet access also were on their list.
The respondents also believe that cost savings, cost control and flexible booking options are vital to their clients. Two-thirds of travelers like to catch a flight before 9 a.m. to get to their destination and then board a return flight home between 3 and 6 p.m.
“The more closely we can work with our clients in following their corporate travel policies,” said Liben, “the more beneficial it is to the client’s bottom line.”