NEW YORK — Many companies expect to increase travel spending next year from what is expected to remain a craterous 2009, but some industry players are convinced it will be a matter of years before they resume pre-recession levels, according to speakers at last month's National Business Travel Association International Convention in San Diego, conversations with industry buyers and suppliers and recent surveys of corporate travel managers.
The industry consensus is that the recession's bottom has been reached, but that it likely will be a long slog out — particularly as corporate travel this year has continued to lag other major travel segments in showing signs of recovery.
"We want to be optimistic about some of the upward trends we're seeing," said Sabre Holdings chairman and CEO Sam Gilliland, "although what we could be experiencing is just bumping along the bottom. Considering where we've been, bouncing along the bottom isn't such a bad thing, frankly. We are beginning to be encouraged."
According to a UBS survey of 61 large-market travel buyers released last month, the median air spend this year has fallen between 30 percent and 40 percent—leaving a deep hole from which the corporate travel industry must climb.
Continental CEO Larry Kellner during a general session at the NBTA convention, which also featured Southwest CEO Gary Kelly, said he has seen the impact. "Our business travel's been down in the 30 percent level the last couple months," Kellner said. "It's a little better than where it was in April and May. I would tell you that a couple of points don't make a trend yet, but we do feel some sense that things have stabilized."
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Source: Business Travel News