ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Reduced capacity, growing fares, crowded planes, and airport congestion are propelling a growing number of corporations to eye air travel reductions this year and explore remote conferencing capabilities to substitute non-strategic business trips, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives said. ACTE released the results of a survey of 128 travel buyers that shows 49% of respondents are reducing travel in 2008, with 98% claiming "there is a point where the cost of air travel will definitely warrant looking at travel alternatives for non-strategic (non-revenue producing) travel," ACTE said. Of the respondents, 61% expect that point to come this year.
Of respondents, 59% expect airline capacity withdrawals — which many of the largest U.S. carriers have implemented as a salvo against rising fuel expenses — to limit their companies' "ability to meet directly with manufacturers, suppliers or buyers." ACTE said travel buyers are expecting a "dramatic increase" in requests for travel alternatives from employees, and 82% of respondents are eying remote conferencing.
Such companies as Credit Suisse, Cisco Systems, and Hewlett-Packard have increased reliance on remote conferencing to avoid unnecessary travel, as travel buyers at the ACTE/Corporate Travel World conference last month discussed travel alternatives and tighter control of spending to cope with a sagging economic environment.
ACTE said the time is ripe to explore such travel substitutes, and the organization continues to push demand management — a procurement practice that "weighs revenue return against expense and productivity loss — as a tactic to manage travel. ACTE executive director Susan Gurley noted the "confluence of economic pressure, customer need, and technological availability, which generally heralds significant change for an industry."
"It is unrealistic to think that all travel can be reduced to an electronic meeting, but a lot of it can, as some companies have already discovered to their financial advantage," Gurley said.
Source: Business Travel News