Economy Remains Key Concern, But Business Travelers Expect Increase in Activity, Accenture Survey Finds

Cost Outstrips Geopolitical, Health Issues for Business Travelers

LONDON; June 17, 2003 The economy remains a major concern for business travelers and may be limiting the travel industry’s ability to raise prices, but business travel shows signs of growth, according to a survey of U.K. business travelers released today by Accenture.

When asked which factors will have an impact on their business travel plans over the next six months, 43 percent of respondents selected the economy, versus 20 percent who selected geopolitical issues and 16 percent who selected health issues, including SARS. Nevertheless, four out of five respondents (83 percent) report that they expect their business travel to increase or remain at the same level over the next six months.

That travel will bring business people to a variety of locations. Almost three-quarters of the respondents plan to travel within the UK (74 percent), followed by continental Europe, the U.S. and Asia-Pacific (61 percent, 33 percent and 24 percent, respectively). For travel within the UK, 49 percent will use an automobile, 31 percent will use air travel and 19 percent will travel by rail.

When these business travelers make their plans, cost figures prominently:

“While it’s good news that we’re going to see an increase in business travel, competition has increased and everyone is vying for the same customers,” says Alex Christou, a partner in Accenture’s Transportation & Travel Services industry group. “Hotels, air and rail carriers must not only keep their prices competitive, but they must differentiate themselves by offering superb customer service based on long-term, personalized relationships.”

Despite the emphasis on price, the survey results indicate that services and reputation are significant factors when it comes to making business travel arrangements:

The survey, fielded in June 2003, entailed querying 322 business travelers at UK-based companies. The multiple-choice survey was conducted online and has a margin of error of +/- 5 percent.

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