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Strength in Global Economy Means Higher Travel Pricing in 2018

GBTA 21 July 2017
BOSTON -- According to the 2018 Global Travel Forecast, travel prices are expected to rise sharply in the coming year, reaching nearly 4 percent increases in some sectors. Released today, the fourth annual forecast, by the GBTA Foundation in partnership with Carlson Wagonlit Travel, and with the support of the Carlson Family Foundation, shows global airfares are expected to rise 3.5 percent in 2018; hotel prices are expected to be 3.7 percent higher; and ground transportation such as taxis, trains and buses are expected to rise only 0.6 percent - significantly less than the 3 percent inflation forecast for 2018. "Geopolitical risks, uncertainties in emerging markets and ever-changing political environments in Europe and the United States mean today's travel professionals have more than ever to take into account when building their travel programs," said Jeanne Liu, GBTA Foundation vice president of research. "The most successful programs will have to keep a watchful eye on both geopolitical risks and a rapidly-changing supplier landscape as they reevaluate strategy often and adapt as necessary." "The higher pricing is a reflection of the stronger economy and growing demand," said Kurt Ekert, president and CEO, Carlson Wagonlit Travel. "The global numbers from this forecast should be considered strong leading indicators of what 2018 will mean for global businesses, as we anticipate higher spending." 2018 Air Projections The rise in global airfares comes as crude oil prices rise, in spite of airlines adding an expected 6 percent capacity in 2018. Complicating airline pricing is increased segmentation of basic fares among large carriers, as travelers now have the option of choosing a basic economy, restricted fare versus various upgraded fares, with specific service options and pricing varying by airline. Asia Pacific expects to see a 2.8 percent rise in 2018 pricing with domestic demand increasing, particularly in China and India. However, as many of the economies in Asia strengthen, weaknesses in infrastructure - and airports in particular - are increasingly becoming apparent.Across EMEA, air travel is anticipated to continue growing, with prices rising a whopping 7.1 percent across Eastern Europe and 5.5 percent in Western Europe. However, Middle East and African countries only expect a 3 percent increase as they face ongoing security threats and an oil industry that is still in recovery. Currency fluctuations in Europe may further impact airfares in 2018. Given limited competition and the upcoming summer 2018 World Cup Soccer tournament in Russia, Eastern Europe may again have the most significant price increases in the region.Across Latin America and the Caribbean, prices are expected to change little in 2018 - up only 0.3 percent. Airlines have cautiously added capacity back into the market. Broader analysis of South America shows a 20 percent increase in scheduled flights by the end of 2019. Low cost carriers are well positioned for this area given the low penetration in the region. And, new, more efficient aircraft coming into in operation will lower operating costs in 2018.North America will see prices rise by a modest 2.3 percent, according to our projections. Citing the potential for stronger U.S. travel restrictions, flights to the United States have already been reduced accordingly. Canadian airlines are expected to aggressively compete given new market entrants and capacity growth of about 11 percent in 2017 and 12 percent in 2018. With the region's air travel market nearly flat year-over-year in early 2017, competition is fierce between carriers who now compete on branded fares rather than on bundled fares or by carrier type. 2018 Hotel Projections Globally, the 3.7 percent average increase in hotel prices masks what is actually happening on a regional level. Europe is expected to post strong increases, while other regions are barely keeping up with inflation. Additionally, prices are expected to fall in Latin America and the Caribbean. We expect the impact of the 2017 mergers will be felt during the 2018 RFP season.Suppliers are progressively moving corporate buyers away from fixed, negotiated hotel rates and toward dynamic rate pricing. There is also a global trend towards "smarter" hotels, with hotels investing in beacon technologies, messaging, in-room entertainment and more. Increasingly tech-savvy guests will use apps to check in and out, unlock their hotel room door, operate the television remotely and control room temperature. Across Asia Pacific, hotel prices are likely to rise 3.5 percent - with a large discrepancy as Japanese prices are expected to fall 4.1 percent, but New Zealand is set to rise a full 9.8 percent. Strong economies means demand is increasing in the APAC region. Buyers should anticipate a more challenging discussion with newly merged hotel groups, especially in high-volume markets such as Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore.Across EMEA, hotel prices are likely to rise - 6.6 percent in Eastern Europe, 6.3 percent in Western Europe, but only a modest 0.6 percent in the Middle East and Africa. Norway is expected to lead with increases of 14 percent expected for 2018, while Russian hotel prices will rise 11.9 percent thanks to increased demand from hosting the 2018 Summer World Cup.Revenue per available room growth is expected for most major cities across Europe in 2018, with Porto and Budapest leading the pack. With its halt on hotel construction, Barcelona may join the top five cities for occupancy rates, while Amsterdam has implemented a "hotel stop" policy to limit new hotel development. Dublin is increasing supply through 2020. There has been a large increase in upscale hotel transactions in the United Arab Emirates as oil prices start rising again. Use of sharing economy players will remain limited as governments tighten control.Within Latin America, hotel prices are expected to fall 1.2 percent, with steep declines in Brazil (down 8.7 percent) and Argentina (down 2.3 percent). However, Peru (7.7 percent) and Chile (5.5 percent) are expected to see increases. Buyers may see efficiencies in 2018 as bigger brands purchase independents and upgrade systems. Capacity is being added throughout the region with an estimated 449,500 new hotel rooms being constructed between late 2016 and 2025 - a huge 57 percent increase in supply. Sharing economy accommodations are still not very popular for corporate travel in Latin America, given structural security concerns.North American hoteliers may be banking on economic growth as demand has leveled off since mid-summer 2016 - but supply is expected to continue growing steadily through 2018. With international travel projected to grow 4 percent in 2017 and 2018, U.S. hotel growth is expected to be concentrated primarily along with the West Coast and in Washington D.C. In Canada, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are expected to maintain good pricing power amid a weak Canadian dollar. 2018 Ground Transportation Projections Ground transportation pricing is expected to rise only 0.6 percent in 2018 (but 5.5 percent by 2022). Industry experts predict record new car sales over the next five years, pushing up per unit fleet costs, while used car pricing is expected to fall 50 percent, hurting residual value for used rental cars and making current rental car pricing unsustainable. Market-specific regulations for curbing emissions, and rising oil prices have suppliers' already increasing availability of "green" rental cars. Sharing economy players such as Uber and Lyft are expected to continue double-digit growth upwards of 10 percent in 2018, before settling down into single-digit growth for 2019. Their growth is under threat by costly regulation and government bans. Continued uncertainty in mining, and a cautious recovery in the oil and gas industry will result in flat rates for 2018 in Asia Pacific. Business continues to grow in China as most major car rental and sharing economy suppliers have a presence. Sharing economy suppliers Didi Chuxing in China, Ola in India and Grab in Southeast Asia have all achieved economies of scale that make them key competitors to more traditional car rentals firms and taxis. Meanwhile, Malaysia and Singapore are pushing ahead with a high-speed rail line from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore. Construction is not expected to be complete until 2026, but figures to strongly compete when finished.Ground transportation remains very competitive in EMEA. Prices are expected to remain mostly flat in Europe, and up a meager 1 percent across the Middle East and Africa. Rail continues to be a viable alternative to air travel throughout Europe, especially with enhanced security at airports. The continued expansion of Enterprise, the re-emergence of Budget and the continued impact of new players like Uber and Lyft are all creating downward pricing pressure for 2018. Both Uber and Lyft have been banned in some markets and restricted from airport access in others as governments turn their attention to regulating this new industry segment.Prices are expected to rise slightly (1.0 percent) across Latin America. Brazil and Mexico are anticipating increased demand for car rentals in 2018 as their economies rebound. However, the rental car market there is still heavily fragmented. Uber is betting big on its Latin American business (despite issues in Brazil, Peru and Argentina) - especially after its recent departure from the Chinese market. Regional and international rental companies continue to expand and pricing is expected to stabilize.Canada is expected to see a healthy 4.6 percent increase in 2018, but the overall region will only be up 1.0 percent. Limited railways, along with improved income per capita and increased corporate travel, are expected to push up rental car rates in North America. Still a low-margin business, rental car companies have implemented operational efficiencies and made investments in technology to better manage fleets and improve utilization. Sharing economies continue to grow, but face improved competition from traditional cabs and government regulation.About the 2018 ForecastForecast projections provided by CWT Solutions Group. Data analysis provided by Rockport Analytics. The report, 2018 Global Travel Forecast, is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailingpyachnes@gbtafoundation.org. Download the report.About the Carlson Family FoundationThis report is made possible by the Carlson Family Foundation. Established in 1950, by its founder, Curtis L. Carlson, the Carlson Family Foundation represents the commitment of the Carlson family to give charitably to humanitarian and community affairs. Through investments in education, mentoring, children and youth at risk, youth mentoring, anti-trafficking initiatives, and workforce development programs, the Carlson Family Foundation actively participates in creating strong and healthy communities, and a competitive workforce.
Article by Monica Sanchez

Improving The Hotel RFP Process

GBTA 16 June 2017
Each year, most travel programs work closely with their hotel suppliers to negotiate rates and amenities, so they can find the best partners in this space. Typically, 12 percent of the properties are dropped and 13 percent are newly signed as preferred providers. Three-quarters of companies issue the same RFP around the globe, while 21 percent have customized RFPs for different regions. Overall the process lasts an average of 3.2 months.In general, most travel managers are satisfied with the RFP process (66 percent), and those who rely somewhat on a TMC for this task have notably higher levels of satisfaction (75 percent). The 33 percent of overall travel managers dissatisfied with the RFP process note several factors driving their dissatisfaction including how long it takes, no tangible benefits from going through the process every year and lack of resources to dedicate to the process.Companies with larger travel spending also have higher levels of satisfaction with the RFP process possibly because they are able to solve some of the complaints mentioned and have greater resources. More organizations with higher travel spend of $30 million or more (67 percent) claim to rely on a TMC somewhat or a lot compared to those with travel spend of less than $30 million (50 percent).In 2012, the GBTA Foundation and the GBTA Hotel Committee worked to develop a Hotel RFP template to try to standardize the process. Two-thirds (66 percent) of those surveyed are aware of the template, while two in five (40 percent) say their companies currently use it. Organizations with travel spend of $30 million or more are more likely than those with lower travel spend to not only know about the GBTA Hotel RFP (80 percent vs 60 percent) but also more likely to use it (59 percent and 26 percent respectively).When looking at specific modules like the Groups/Meetings module and the Corporate Social Responsibility module, a majority of survey respondents indicated they use those modules for informational purposes only, rather than as part of the decision making process.The top three reasons travel managers use the GBTA Hotel RFP template are the ability to add user-defined questions, the fact there is no cost associated with its use and the ability to choose which modules to use. Most travel managers use the Blackout/Fair Dates (85 percent) and the Safety and Security (82 percent) modules."The results of this study confirm the value that TMCs bring to the RFP process, as this is one of their core areas of expertise. By relying on a TMC to assist with the RFP process, travel managers are able to focus on other areas of responsibility, and ultimately deliver more value to their travelers and suppliers alike," said Dorothy Dowling, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Best Western Hotels & Resorts. "This study is valuable as it truly allows us to better understand the Hotel RFP process from the perspective of travel managers, which will ultimately help brands such as Best Western implement changes to improve the process."How can travel managers and suppliers make the Hotel RFP process a more efficient one? Use TMCs for time-consuming activities related to the RFP process while staying involved in the decision-making process. Understand there is not a one-size fits all approach and while yearly reviews may work for some programs, others may be successful with every-other-year reviews.Travel programs should analyze their decision making process to understand the key elements relevant to them, organize them in tiered levels of importance and identify the top elements as essential to making decisions. The bottom-tier elements may not necessarily need to be collected every year. With this method, travel managers can save time and resources and suppliers will know which data is truly needed to develop strong partnerships with travel programs.More Information:The report, Hotel RFPs - The Decision Making Process, is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing pyachnes@gbtafoundation.org.Methodology:This GBTA Foundation conducted an online survey of 161 travel managers who are Direct members of GBTA in the United States and Canada. It was conducted in February of 2017.

The Future Of Hotel Technology

GBTA 22 November 2016
With the recent introduction of voice-activated hotel rooms, robot butlers and biometric access control systems, it's no secret hotel chains are investing heavily in technology to improve the guest experience. The question remains, which hotel technologies do business travelers currently use and which do they wish to see offered in the future?Earlier this year, a new study released by the GBTA Foundation, in partnership with Best Western Hotels & Resorts, explored both of these issues in addition to satisfaction levels when using current hotel technologies. GBTA recently held a webinar in which Festive Road Associate Lora Ellis and GBTA Foundation Director of Research Monica Sanchez walked through the results.Sanchez shared that a majority of North America-based business travelers commonly use hotel apps, and three in five (61 percent) business travelers used in-room Wi-Fi or high speed Internet available to all guests during their last stay. She also discussed ways in which hotel apps and mobile technology are currently being used, noting business travelers most often use hotel apps to check the status of a reservation (43 percent), manage their rewards points or account (43 percent) and book a hotel stay (39 percent).The study also takes a deeper dive into which non-standard technology amenities business travelers are interested in using. Business travelers reported interest in additional power and USB outlets, streaming services, in-room chargers, keyless entry and more.The study and webinar are both available through the Hub. These sessions are just around the corner:How Safe Are Your Hotels? (Thursday, November 17 - 2:00 PM ET)Replay: Global Travel Price Outlook: Getting the Most from Your Travel Spend in 2017 (Tuesday, November 22 - 2:00 PM China Standard Time)Best Practices to Enable Your Travelers to Embrace Expense Management (Tuesday, November 22 - 2:00 PM ET)Sustainability - Bringing Value to Your Organization (Wednesday, November 30 - 2:00 PM ET)The full schedule of webinars is available here.

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