Accenture Survey of Business Travelers Predicts Near-Term Growth for Airline and Hotel Industries

Business Travelers Plan to Return to the Skies and Rooms, but New Trends Reveal that Better Insight into Customers is Critical for the Industry’s Success

ATLANTA; Sept. 18, 2002 Business travel will likely increase over the next six months, according to an Accenture survey of more than 950 business travelers at US-based companies.

More than one third (35 percent) of the survey respondents said that they expect to travel more for business between now and the end of the first quarter of 2003 than they had during the past six months. This is compared with 40 percent of respondents who said their business travel will remain at the same level and 25 percent reporting it will drop. And air carriers continue to be the preferred method of travel with almost three-quarters (74 percent) choosing this as their primary mode of transportation.

In addition, the majority of respondents reported that their companies had placed few restrictions on travel. For instance, more than three-quarters (79 percent) said their companies have not restricted reservation option changes such as business and first-class travel, and another 83 percent reported that their companies have not restricted the use of some luxury hotels.

“We’re seeing many positive indicators that business travel is rebounding and returning to the normal levels prior to September 11 last year,” said Julian Sparkes, a partner in Accenture’s Transportation & Travel Services industry group. “However, the travel industry is undergoing a period of significant transition and redefinition, and it must understand that the business traveler is reshaping the industry due to the number of choices for air carriers and hotels available. ”

As travel picks up, respondents and their companies are evaluating travel options more carefully, and the research points to several potential shifts that might alter the outlook of business travel for several industry sectors. For instance:

The study also highlighted the importance of airlines and hotels interacting effectively with their customers. The findings revealed that:

“In a world of increasing competition and declining profits, airlines and hotels must look at their business models and rethink the way they deliver services and generate growth,” said Sparkes. “The future leaders of the travel industry will ultimately be those who can strengthen customer loyalty to grow revenues.”

The survey, conducted in August 2002, entailed querying more than 950 business travelers at US-based companies. The multiple-choice survey was conducted entirely online and has a margin of error of +/- 3%.

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