Near-Term Growth in Business Travel Expected, Despite Global Health, Economic and Political Issues, Accenture Survey Finds

Price Dominates Travel Decisions, but Brand and Reputation are Critical Factors

ATLANTA; June 4, 2003 Despite global health, economic and geopolitical concerns, business travel shows signs of growth in the United States, according to a survey of more than 1,600 U.S. business travelers released today by Accenture.

Four out of five respondents (81 percent) said they expect their business travel to increase or remain at the same level over the next six months. The survey findings also indicate that the economy is having a greater impact on business travel than are geopolitical or health issues. For instance, when asked which factors will have an impact on their business travel plans over the next six months, 47 percent of respondents selected the economy, versus 16 percent who selected geopolitical issues and 15 percent who selected health issues, including SARS.

Yet, the survey indicates that price remains a major concern for business travelers:

“In a slow economy and an extremely competitive market, everyone is vying for the same customers,” says Julian Sparkes, a partner in Accenture’s Transportation & Travel Services industry group. “Hotels and air carriers must not only keep their prices competitive, but differentiate themselves by offering superb customer service. The survey clearly indicates that the travel industry must better identify high value customers to build personalized relationships.”

Despite the emphasis on price, survey results indicate that brand and reputation, as well as a traveler’s experience, are significant factors when it comes to making business travel arrangements:

Among other influences, respondents also identified technology as an area of growth and opportunity in the travel industries. For example, more than half (58 percent) of respondents said they book their business travel online, and 44 percent cited Internet access as a “must have” in their choice of business accommodations.

“The choices for business travel are blurring as price, brand and loyalty begin to intersect,” said Sparkes. “Airlines and hotels must make sure their loyalty programs are fully integrated in the way they do business on a daily basis. They should rethink their business models because the future leaders of the travel industry will ultimately be those who are investing today to meet future customer needs.”

The survey, fielded in May 2003, entailed querying more than 1,600 business travelers at US-based companies. The multiple-choice survey was conducted online and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

About Accenture
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