Business travel increases as recession eases


In a recent survey of business travelers, it was revealed that as the recession begins to ease, so do the purse strings on business travel. While many pointed to an improving economy as the reason for an increased number of trips, some said they’ll travel more because of recent downsizing. Other key findings from the survey include more than 60 percent who expect to control their business travel spending habits the same way they did in 2009.

The survey of business travelers in Best Western’s loyalty program, Best Western Rewards, produced findings that were a key discussion point at this year’s annual Best Western Business Travel Summit, held in New York. A panel of experts including Dorothy Dowling, Best Western’s senior vice president of sales and marketing; Mike McCormick, executive director and COO of the National Business Travel Association; and Jesal Meswani, vice president of global commercial products for MasterCard, discussed a wide range of topics important to business travelers who are adjusting to a “new normal” following changes taking place during the recession.

As a sign of ongoing economic recovery, positive indicators in industries such as aerospace, maritime, petroleum, and food are being seen, according to members of the Best Western Diamond 100 (BWD100) Advisory Board. Made up of nearly 400 of the brand’s best customers, BWD100 members work for small and medium sized companies, or for themselves. These business travelers drive more often than they fly and often make their own travel decisions, rather than relying on travel agents or corporate travel managers.

“The positive signals indicated in this recent survey are in line with recent data from American Express and others that show a slow but steady return to business travel as the year progresses,” said Chris McGinnis, editor for Best Western’s blog, , and manager of the survey. “More than 20 percent of BWD100 members, for example, said they plan on taking more business trips in the coming months, compared with just 11 percent back in July of 2009.”

The so-called “hassle factor” of air travel (new fees, security issues, delays) is having little impact on this group’s decision to fly or drive. Just over 70 percent report that air travel hassles will not result in fewer plane trips.