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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.

Business Travelers Embracing Self-Service Technology and Personalized Travel Options

GBTA 30 June 2016
Mobile technology continues to make it easier for travelers to manage their own travel while in-transit and the majority of global business travelers are embracing this trend, according to a new study released today from the GBTA Foundation in partnership with Sabre Corporation. More than 7 in 10 business travelers in the United States (78 percent), Italy (77 percent), Canada (74 percent) and Spain (73 percent) prefer using self-service technology to manage their travel, while the rate is slightly lower for the Nordic countries (60 percent) and Germany (56 percent). In North America and Europe, the vast majority of business travelers also want to receive personalized travel options. However, even though business travelers want personalized options, they are hesitant to share too much personal information to obtain them. They are commonly willing to share details such as their frequent flyer or hotel loyalty number, preferred airline and hotel brands and aircraft seat preferences, but fewer than half would share their travel history, preferred leisure activities while traveling, their business calendar with booked appointments and their social media account names. "Technological innovation has given business travelers greater control of their own travel, but that doesn't need to mean trouble for a managed travel program," said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA Executive Director and COO. "Travel buyers can recommend apps for their travelers to help drive compliance and can also take advantage of technology to track and more easily assist their travelers in case of an emergency, helping fulfill their duty of care requirements." "This report demonstrates how corporate travelers look to technology to make travel a more seamless experience. But it also reflects a crowded and fragmented technology landscape where travelers have to use multiple apps and services to manage their trip," said Clinton Anderson, senior vice president, strategy and traveler experience for Sabre Corporation. "We see an opportunity to integrate critical technologies into a single platform to help business travelers throughout their entire trip. This will dramatically increase traveler satisfaction while improving program compliance and reducing costs for corporations." Road Warriors & Travel AppsBusiness travelers use a variety of travel-related mobile apps during their trips, but in all countries surveyed, supplier apps are more commonly used than travel management company (TMC), itinerary management and expense management apps.The most common uses for travel-related mobile apps by North American business travelers include flight check-in/status, generating an online boarding pass and booking hotels and flights. In the European countries surveyed, business travelers use travel-related apps for many of the same reasons as their North American counterparts. However, compared with U.S.-based business travelers, Germany and Nordic-based travelers are less likely to use travel-related apps for booking, while Spain-based travelers are more likely to do so. The European business travelers surveyed were also more likely to use apps to book rail or train than North Americans and were less likely to use them to request a ride-sharing service or taxi. Most companies don't require or recommend travel apps as only one-fifth or fewer say their organization has specific apps they require for business travel and about half in each country say their organization does not recommend any travel apps. Mobile Payment & Millennials Given the opportunity, many business travelers would likely use mobile payment or e-wallet technology. The share likely to do so ranges from 43 percent in the Nordic countries all the way up to 75 percent in Italy. Millennials and Gen-X travelers are much more likely than Baby Boomers to want to use mobile payments.Technology & Duty of CareMobile apps commonly developed by TMCs or third-party safety or security firms can assist with duty of care by allowing travelers to check-in with their company upon arrival at a destination or by allowing companies to track their employees' location and send push notifications in an emergency among other features. Only a small share of travelers use these apps, however. Only 22 percent of survey respondents have used a mobile app to check-in with their company during a trip over the past year and even fewer (15 percent) have used a mobile app that allows their company to track their location. Still, despite low use, 63 percent said they would allow their company to track their location via their mobile device for duty of care purposes.Methodology and More Information: An online survey of 756 business travelers in nine countries was fielded between March 21 and April 3, 2016. The countries included the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The four Nordic countries are grouped together and referred to as one region throughout the report. Respondents qualified if they were employed full-time and had traveled for business in the past year. The Digital Business Traveler: A Survey of Business Travelers in North America, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Nordic Countries report 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.About Sabre CorporationSabre Corporation is the leading technology provider to the global travel industry. Sabre's software, data, mobile and distribution solutions are used by hundreds of airlines and thousands of hotel properties to manage critical operations, including passenger and guest reservations, revenue management, flight, network and crew management. Sabre also operates a leading global travel marketplace, which processes more than US$120 billion of global travel spend annually by connecting travel buyers and suppliers. Headquartered in Southlake, Texas, USA, Sabre serves customers in more than 160 countries around the world.

GBTA Announces Education Sessions for GBTA Conference 2016 Frankfurt in Partnership with VDR

GBTA 29 June 2016
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) - the voice of the global business travel industry - announces its education programming for GBTA Conference 2016 Frankfurt in Partnership with VDR. For the third straight year, GBTA joins its German partner association VDR - the German Business Travel Association - to host the largest travel management event of its kind in Europe.This year's education sessions will focus on three distinct tracks designed to address the topics that have most affected travellers and their organisations over the past year: Technology, Traveller Management and Travel Management.Discussion topics will include travel data privacy, risk management, developments in hotel and airfare purchasing and more."We are delighted to offer delegates education sessions designed to help their businesses adapt to an evolving business travel industry," said Catherine McGavock, GBTA's Regional Vice President - EMEA. "Travel managers can balance the needs of their business travellers with the goals of their company through these timely sessions focused on impactful industry issues.""The joint conference by GBTA & VDR will once again offer a top-notch education programme," added Hans-Ingo Biehl, Executive Director and Member of the VDR-Board. "Various education sessions will focus on the latest in emerging technologies, developing a cohesive risk management strategy and incorporating data into travel programmes."The Europe conference will take place November 14-16 in Frankfurt, Germany at The Forum at Messe Frankfurt. The conference theme, Balance, aptly describes today's business travel environment where buyers must balance many priorities from duty of care and risk management to managing cost and compliance. Finding balance is particularly a challenge at a moment when the industry is undergoing significant changes due to changing demographics, technologies and travel platforms.Delegate registration is open and available online.Media registration is complimentary. GBTA will also be hosting its second annual Media Breakfast giving reporters the opportunity to hear breaking news directly from key industry suppliers. For media accreditation, please contact Nikki Stimson atnstimson@gbta.org or +44 (0) 7764 618199.Verband Deutsches Reisemanagement e.V. (VDR)The VDR represents the interests of German industry and deals with the general and competitive conditions surrounding business trips and mobility. It campaigns for efficient, economical, safe, unhindered, worldwide travel possibilities for companies. The VDR with its over 530 member companies represents a total annual turnover in the business travel sector of more than EUR 10 billion.

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