Over the past couple of months, Rosenbluth International
has seen a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. After experiencing a new year of historical lows, Rosenbluth`s transactions within the U.S. have slowly, but surely ticked upwards. More than a mere trend, Rosenbluth`s analyst teams are now reporting business travel has moved above pre-war levels, up 20% since hitting rock bottom during the Iraqi war and currently just -1% under 2002 levels.
According to company analysts, international travel also trending upward from its precipitous low during the war and now represents almost 9% of all Rosenbluth transactions. And, as SARS concerns diminish slightly with a steady decline in reported cases, business travel to Asia is also recovering, with travel in China alone up 80% from its nadir in May, prompting cautious optimism among industry insiders.
According to Ron DiLeo, chief operating officer of Strategic Travel Solutions at Rosenbluth International, the current transactional activity is “more than a blip, it`s directly related to pent-up demand for travel. I don`t know a CEO or COO on the planet that`s not driving growth aggressively.”
Business travel has indeed been pent-up and with good reason. The start of 2003 brought unprecedented turbulence to all corners of the world, culminating into a less than favorable environment for travel. The Iraqi war weakened an already crippled global economy, threats of terrorism loomed over us like never before and, SARS devastated business travel in most parts of Asia. The results, around the globe, have certainly been traumatic, with all industries feeling the constraints of a severe economic downturn and families everywhere feeling the pinch. And the travel industry, Rosenbluth International, its associates and clients have hardly been immune to the affects.
But are blue skies ahead?
The end of the war with Iraq and recent news that the number of cases of SARS have dropped substantially has ended much of the uncertainty that nearly brought business travel to a standstill in the first quarter of 2003. And the lack of uncertainty has caused a large majority of our corporate clients to unlease their business travelers to drive sales and resume business as usual.
Early in 2003, Rosenbluth International
issued a significant growth initiative despite the geopolitical uncertainties and soft global economy. Looking ahead to better times, Rosenbluth predicted the resumption of business travel, understanding travel is essential to economic growth, the vitality of multinational corporations, and exchange of services within the global marketplace
Consequently, despite seemingly insurmountable challenges this year, the company`s 2003 growth initiative has already resulted in nearly $200 million in new business. Rosenbluth recently announced that it has won the travel management contracts of ConocoPhillips, Total Fina, Hawley & Hazel (Colgate), Fairfax, Havas, Tube City, Inc., MSX International, GKN, XL Insurance, Armstrong, 3Com, Bondo & Remer, DynCorp, EKONA Architecture & Planning, Genuity, and Redwood Neuroscience Institute, to name a few.
Despite the obvious obstacles related to SARS, Rosenbluth has been awarded some significant new business wins in Asia Pacific.
While recent transactional trends and new business wins are promising, the company and industry are still at the mercy of a fragile economy and its potential upturn. As David Jonas of Business Travel News recently noted, the pace at which travel rebounds “will be dictated by general economic recovery and performance of each company`s specific sector.”
The profitability of Rosenbluth`s clients coupled with the recovery of the global economy certainly will most definitely determine the extent of Rosenbluth`s continued growth throughout 2003 and the sustained recovery of the travel industry. But if the recent up tick increases, the industy will certaintly see brighter skies in 2004.
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