With the British economy set to stagnate next year and on-going pressures on travel budgets, what lies in wait for the corporate travel market in 2012?
Cilla Goldberger, Managing Director of business travel management company ABT UK, reveals her predictions for the year ahead:
1. “Safety never takes a day off!”
Following a turbulent year dominated by uprisings in the Middle East, riots across the UK and unrest throughout Europe due to the Eurozone crisis, safety concerns will be the number one priority for business travel in 2012. Rigorous issues and crisis management procedures, including detailed repatriation plans, will be requested and analysed by existing and potential clients.
2. The airborne office takes flight
2012 will see inflight mobile phone and wireless internet connectivity become a reality. As such, air travel will no longer be an opportunity for business travellers to escape the office and seek peace and quiet in the sky.
3. 24-7-365 service expected as standard
Time is the most valuable commodity for business travellers. As a result, clients expect to be able to call and speak directly with a knowledgeable travel consultant at anytime from anywhere in the world. ABT UK already provides as standard for all clients an in-house 24-7-365 Emergency Travel Helpdesk manned by a dedicated team of specialist consultants.
4. In-house IT innovation slowdown
As internal resource cuts bite deeper, businesses will be looking to external suppliers including travel management companies (TMCs) to deliver ever more creative ways of doing business, particularly on the international stage.
5. Budgets, People, Planet – in that order
The relentless squeeze on travel budgets will ensure that, for the first time, cost will override staff and green travel considerations. While the bottom line will rule in 2012, TMCs have an opportunity to add real value through tailor-made customer services.