One year after the September 11 attacks, corporate travel managers said business travel is still below average. This is according to a survey conducted August 29 - September 5 by the National Business Travel Association (NBTA). However, respondents attribute the travel slump to the economy, not security.
The last time corporate travel was at normal levels was in 2000. Seventy-two percent of the respondents said their travel is below 2000 levels; 31 percent said their travel is down by 20 percent or more from 2000. For 70 percent of respondents, travel in their companies is down from one year ago by as much as 20 percent.
May fell that recovery is expected to take longer than previously thought. Sixty-two percent of respondents think that recovery will take more than 12 months. This is a change from a March survey that showed the majority of respondents (60 percent) thought that travel would be back to normal in only six to 12 months.
Respondents said a stable economy and airline price reform were necessary for travel to return to normal levels. Sixty-three percent said tighter restrictions on non-refundable airline tickets, like those announced by US Airways and others last month, would greatly increase their companies' travel expenses in 2003.To cut costs, companies have already drastically changed their travel policies. Since September 11, companies have eliminated or cut back on luxury travel (40 percent), have redefined non-essential travel (39 percent), are using cheaper hotels (29 percent), processing more car rentals (26 percent) and using more low-cost carriers (22 percent).
"Corporations have been forced to make tough decisions regarding their travel budgets over the past year," said NBTA president Kevin Iwamoto. "While travel is still an essential part of doing business, economic conditions must improve before corporations are willing to return to previous spending levels."