Over one third (36.1%) of UK business agents said the majority of business travellers would continue to book carriers offering extensive frequent flyer programmes in preference to other benefits such as all-business-class service. However, 16.7% of respondents thought the new lower fare all- business-class carriers would prove popular, especially for travellers whose bosses are seeking to reduce travel spend. This is according to the latest Amadeus online snap poll in which more than 150 UK business and leisure travel agents were surveyed about how they felt trends in the industry would affect bookings, and how the travel industry would perform in Q3 2006.
Other responses to the growing number of all-business-class airlines appearing in the market were:
Almost 1 in 5 (16.7%) travel agents foresee that lower fare all-business-class carriers would bring about price competition with the more established carriers
The same number forecast this airline model expanding to new long-haul routes
Just 5.6% said there was no future for all-business-class services
When asked whether business was looking good for Q3, almost two thirds of UK business agents (63.9%) predict they will see an increase in bookings from July to September.
Of the 63.9% of UK business agents who felt bookings were looking up for Q3 2006:
13.9% forecasted sales to rise by 5%
27.8% said they thought sales would increase by 10%
22.2% expected sales to rise by as much as 20%
Conversely 2.8% of business agents surveyed predicted sales to decrease by 5% for the third quarter of the year, and 8.3% expected sales to be down by as much as 10%.
Another interesting fact coming out of the survey was that over 1 in 4 (27.8%) business travellers use the internet to research trips before going to agents for advice.
Elaine Seeto, Director of Marketing for Amadeus UK & Ireland said: “Frequent flyer programmes are probably one of the first customer loyalty schemes and look set to remain popular with business travellers. Choosing a carrier or alliance with a wide route network is seen as a fast-track route to accumulating frequent flyer benefits for many travellers. But with reduced travel budgets, the prospect of travelling business class on a low fare alternative is an attractive proposition - especially if it means avoiding relegation to economy class. While some agents reported encountering resistance to the new all-business-class model, possibly due to the fact that Heathrow is the preferred airport for business travellers, others see this targeted product as one to watch for future growth”.
When questioned about whether the football World Cup was affecting bookings, almost three quarters (74.3%) of business agents said it was very much business as usual, although almost one in six (14.3%) said they had noticed clients postponing trips until after the tournament had finished.