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For the business travel industry, 2009 was a year in which
the financial underpinnings of the business shifted substantially, prompting
nearly every buyer to revisit nearly every supplier contract. The depth and
length of the drop in demand was unprecedented and restructuring of
relationships and service levels became ubiquitous.
(Click here to download BTN's 2010 Business Travel Survey as
While the business travel industry has weathered many a
crisis, the duration of the downturn highlighted communications and crisis
management skills. The elimination of jobs and the deep cuts in travel budgets
made travel buyers vulnerable, but the focus on cost control also cast a light
on the value that managing travelers and spending can bring to corporate
As in previous financial crises, awareness of and
involvement in travel management decisions by senior management reached
all-time highs and empowered travel buyers to reconfigure their programs and
policies. In many cases, by embracing if not leading demand management efforts,
such as employing videoconferencing and pre-trip reporting tools, travel buyers
positioned themselves to gain support for other travel management moves.
The challenges gave travel buyers and their travel services
providers a real opportunity to prove the value of their expertise and
relationships in supporting the business mission and making the most of the
business travel investment. Focus on the return on the travel investment and
the tradeoffs regarding costs and benefits of services last year helped cement
a new foundation of travel management on which many companies will build in the
While companies last year instituted further restrictions on
the use of premium class air, hotel and chauffeured services, there has been a
loosening of some restrictions, particularly in the vertical markets that cut
them most, but many companies are unlikely to return to the same level of use
of these services for quite some time.
As always, Business Travel News appreciates the
representatives from the six major segments of business travel service
suppliers who contributed information for this 26th Annual Business Travel
Survey, including the chief executives and owners of the 36 travel management
companies who released their ARC air transaction and sales data. Business
Travel News particularly appreciates the cooperation of the Airlines Reporting
Corp. in providing that data from its Compass data warehouse to create an
apples-to-apples comparison for the chapter on corporate-owned agencies.
Thanks to these sources and many others who enabled us to
create this picture of how last year's performance and decisions helped create
the environment that we find ourselves in today.