LCT EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH: Peter Yesawich, PhD, President & CEO , Yesawich, Peperdine & Brown
Yesawich, Peperdine & Brown is a marketing research company that conducts extensive studies in bot the corporate and leisure travel industries. The firm studies trends and concerns associated with travel in an effort to better understand what today’s traveler is looking for. Peter Yesawich is president and CEO of the firm, and has studied the travel industry and the effects September 11 still has on it today.
Do you see business travel increasing in the near future?
Demand for business travel service is recovering much more slowly than the demand for leisure travel services. We do not see that there will be anything more than a modest recovery from the business travel point of view, until, at the earliest, about the third quarter of 2002. On the leisure side, we’ve already seen that demand start to pick up. And the difference is that you can stimulate leisure travel demand by adjusting the prices. That’s not the case for business travel. Discounts do not drive the demand for business travel. As you know, you would not necessarily take any more business trips just because you can get airfare 25 percent off.
What do you see in terms of companies and corporate travel?
Any time a company has to put their people on the road, a couple things go through their mind. One is that there is a bigger hassle today than ever before. Travelers have to leave earlier and factor in time going through the increased security procedures. They’re also concerned about the personal safety of their travelers today more so then ever before. The third is that if it has to entail any international travel those anxieties become even more pronounced. You put all that together and you can see that these are real tough times for the airlines and thus ground transportation companies.
Do you see any trends for business travel now? If so, what?
It’s the double whammy for corporate America because on one hand you have CEOs and CFOs who are dealing with the issues of employees safety and they’re dealing with a languishing economy. The combination of those two have caused a lot of business to do two things, one of which is reduce travel expenses. The second is that it forced them to look at alternate ways of doing business. What that meant primarily was exploring the use of technology an awful lot more people discovered video conferencing in the past 60-90 days. The other thing is that business travelers are asking themselves, is this trip essential for may company? Is it one that I really need to make? Or is there an alternate way for me to get my business done? I think all of that will continue to do so for the length of 2002.
So, where does that leave travel at today?
Basically we still have a situation today where one out of five business travelers say that their plans are likely to change and that roughly a third of those say that they are going to drive rather than fly whenever they can. However, overall we’ve seen a decline in the percentage who have said that they were likely to drive rather than fly, which I think is understandable because concerns associated with flying among business travelers have deceased in the past months. We’ve seen the percentage of people who have expressed a concern about flying among Business travelers decline faster than we have see that decline for leisure travelers. Business travelers are less responsive to any sense of anxiety about traveling. The leisure traveler, who is afraid to fly, simply doesn’t fly. In business it’s a little different mindset for people because in the economy today business has to be conducted at a certain speed and getting there quickly is often an important ingredient of any business trip. So basically what is now changing business travel plans more is concern that is expressed by the corporations and the companies that travelers work for about their employees’ safety when traveling.