12 December 2022, etc.venues Monument, London
Business Travel Show Europe, presented by The BTN
21 November, London Hilton Metropole
The major 240-page AirPlus International Travel Management Study paints a picture of an industry that is doing well.The bulk of the 100 plus companies in ten countries questioned thought that the number of trips would grow and that more would be spent on business travel in the coming years.The large majority expected to spend more on flights and hotels in the coming years even though they expected their train and car rental costs to remain about the same.Perhaps just as significantly, the vast majority of those quizzed thought the industry were convinced of the industry's importance not just now but also in the future.For example 77% of the UK companies involved rated it as very important while 22% as somewhat important. For the future, 44% of German companies said it would stay as very important. France was an exception with just 28% rating the industry's future as important.But as with all these surveys - and business travel seems to have more than its fair share - anomalies and surprising statistics were thrown up.While most companies use a variety of ways to pay for travel before departure, there were two outstanding findings. The first is that in Germany, an overwhelming 82% used a lodged card for this purpose. No other country comes near that while in France, the Netherlands and the US, the comparable number is in single figures.The second is that in the UK, which like to see itself as keeping up with the IT revolution, 58% of companies still use paper invoice for pre-trip expenses. Again Britain is "well ahead" of other countries in this field. The comparable figure in America is 9%.Spencer Hanlon, AirPlus managing director for the UK, said: "I think this use of the invoice in the UK is one of the points that will change. We are already seeing its erosion."Two years ago the use was 65%. I think it will be down to 30% or 40% in two years time." But the continued use of paper in preference to electronic communication is not confined to Britain. In all ten countries, the majority of travel management companies sent paper bills to the corporate.In Germany, Switzerland and France this was as high as 65% whereas the figure in the UK was 35%. The number who sent only electronic bills was in a minority with the US the highest at 16%. The worrying statistic is that nearly half companies apparently out to cut their spending, wanted them sent that way in the future.One surprising statistic was the number of companies which did not have any travel policy or guidelines. Most do but a large minority in Spain (37%), Austria (34%), Portugal (34%) and France (31%).More disturbing was the fact that while most companies did analyse their travel spending, a good proportion did not. Only 62% of companies in France looked into their spend.But well over half the companies did not use special analytical tools for this task. In Portugal 34% did not use them, in Germany 36% and in the US 40%. But in all countries, the number of people not using these tools was well over 50%. In Austria for example it was 69%. There were similar anomalies in terms of companies negotiating with suppliers for discount in return for volume.Again most do for air travel, as in the Germany (69%) and the Netherlands (65%). But it is not across the board. In P Spain and Portugal it is only 49%.On hotels while most companies have deals, in France the figure is only 47%.It adds to the confusion when most acknowledge that sizeable sums can and are saved through deals. For example, British companies (where 55% have airline deals) believe 22% can be saved through such negotiations. The French believe that 21% can be saved on car deals but only 56% of companies have deals.* AirPlus questioned more than 100 people with responsibilities for travel in companies in ten countries: Germany, Switzerland, Austria, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the US.