No return to pre-recession levels
Two straw polls conducted at European business travel forums have indicated that a majority of delegates think business travel will never return to pre-recession levels.
At a forum in London organised by the UK and Ireland Institute of Travel Management (ITM), 60% of the delegates said they thought business travel would continue to decrease even when the economy picks up.
Only 25% of the delegates said business travel would recover after the recession.
At a forum in Helsinki organised by the Finnish Business Travel Association (FBTA), as large a majority of delegates as the UK event also believed business travel would not return to its previous levels.
Both events included a range of buyers, agents and executives from hotels and airlines.
ITM said the results of the two on the spot polls indicated that a new age for business practices could be dawning which would see a fall in business travel.
It said: "With a group of key factors coming together at the same time - environment, economy, oil price volatility, technology improvements and traveller security - ITM suggests that there is a real possibility that businesses could change their meeting and communications behaviour permanently, resulting in lower travel demand."
Paul Tilstone, ITM's chief executive, said: "Whilst we have been engaged for some time in the debate about the impact present conditions will have on business travel demand in the future, the strength of opinion at both of these events were surprising and ironic on the day of the Heathrow expansion announcement.
"The reality is that until the economy picks up we won't really know how business travel demand will pan out, so you have to question whether the Heathrow announcement is perhaps a little premature despite the ongoing delays with the decision.
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