A recent survey by the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) showed that sixth months after the terrorist attacks on America corporate travel is recovering. Yet, corporate travel managers believe it may take nearly a year for travel to reach 2000 levels.
The NBTA surveyed 200 corporate travel managers from March 8 to March 13. Nearly 65 percent responded that they have seen demand for travel increase by up to or more than 10 percent since January of this year. The survey showed that consumer product companies and computer and electronic companies reported the most significant increase in travel demand, a sign that many of the sectors hardest hit by the poor economy are bouncing back.
Travel to the East?s North Central region of the country showed the most significant increase in travel from normal levels, while New England is also doing well as destination for business travel. These two regions were both top destinations for companies with travel increases of more than 10 percent compared to normal levels.
?Six months after September 11th, we?re seeing signs of recovery in corporate travel,? said Marianne McInerney, executive director of the NBTA. ?But business travel is still struggling to get back to the levels we saw two years ago.?
The survey showed that 22 percent of travel managers expect travel to return to previous levels within the next six months, while 25 percent expect recovery in six to nine months. Another 35 percent of those surveyed expect it will be nine to 12 months before business travel recovers.
Corporate travel managers agree that business travel is tied to economic recovery. Almost 72 percent answered that the economy must stabilize before travel expenditures will return to their previous levels.
?Business travel expenditures are generally a good indicator of economic recovery,? McInerney said. ?The increased travel demand our members are seeing shows confidence that the economy is turning around.?
Also important to increasing travel expenditures are improvements to the aviation security systems and improved perception of the risks of traveling. Travel managers strongly indicated that returning to consistent check-in times at airports would be crucial to getting business travel expenditures back to previous levels. Many corporations are considering reducing out of town meetings (40 percent) or using more conference calls (56 percent) or Web casts (49 percent) if security processes continue to impede travelers.
In order to make security screening more reliable and efficient, 66 percent of travel managers favor a ?trusted traveler? ID system that would allow frequent travelers to regain efficiencies at airport security checkpoints, up from 50 percent in January.
?The ease and predictability of passing through travel security systems is critical in business travel decisions,? McInerney concluded.