FCm predicts UK biz travel growth

Business travel will continue to see steady growth in 2006 provided the world is not rocked by a terrorist attack or flu epidemic according to FCm Travel Solutions boss Alan Spence.
The company expects to see a rise in transactions of around five percent in the UK, particularly in terms of travel to India and China, building on the four per cent increase experienced this year.

“The industry has faced up to so many challenges in the last four years, from terrorist acts to SARS and the impact of the internet, but we have come through that and 2005 has been a positive year”, said Alan Spence, managing director of FCm Travel Solutions in the UK.

“Average air fares are still down, but transactions have grown steadily and we intend to build on that,” he added. “2006 will be a good year barring any accidents. I don’t think business travel is necessarily going to see any spectacular development, but steady growth is far more preferable than a boom or bust scenario. India and China have opened up and are competing in terms of price, so we are definitely seeing more clients travelling to those markets from the UK

But the sector most likely to see any significant change is rail thanks to the introduction of new rolling stock by the train operating companies, as well as better service and schedules. “Rail is booming,” adds Spence. “The rail companies really seem to be getting their act together and so travelling by rail for business purposes has become much easier and quicker.”

In terms of industry issues, Spence reckons that GDS de-regulation and APIS will continue to dominate the business travel agenda.

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“If GDS de-regulation gets the green light and certain airlines decided to sell their seats through one particular GDS, that will limit choice and have a dramatic effect on the corporate customer,” claims Spence. “And the extra work involved in gathering data to meet US security requirements could also become an issue for travel management companies. We are already looking at how we handle this in readiness for when APIS comes into effect.”
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