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Convene - 730 3rd Avenue, New York City - March 23,
German business travel habits
are evolving, according a survey released this month by German business travel
association VDR, as travelers are taking longer average trips, trading up in
hotel class and increasingly relying on spot buying.
German corporate travel
spending grew last year from 2009 levels, but did not rebound to the peak
levels reported in 2007, according to the study, which is based on 800 based
respondents responsible for managing
business travel for Germany-based companies of all sizes. Though no estimates
were provided on spending and travel levels for this year, next year promises more
increases than decreases, as 39
percent of respondents expect their organization to take more air trips in 2012
than they will this year, while 47 percent expect volumes to stay the same.
Only 9 percent expect air trips to decrease, and 5 percent were unsure. Similarly,
31 percent expect hotel stays to increase next year. "For the hotel business and above all for airlines, the
forecast has never been this positive," VDR claimed.
German organizations last year in total spent
€43.5 billion on travel (up nearly 6 percent over 2009) and
took 154.8 million trips (up nearly 7 percent), according to VDR. However,
there was great disparity between large and small companies, as firms with
fewer than 500 employees grew total trips by 9 percent, and larger firms
"reacted with great caution," keeping such increases to less than 2
percent. Furthermore, companies with more than 500 employees reduced spend last
year by nearly 4 percent from 2009 levels, despite more trips.
All the while, the business
traveler population has been on the wane. While VDR counted 8.7 million German business travelers (defined as "employees
of a company or public-sector organization who take at least one business trip
a year") in 2009, that number was
down to 8.1 million last year, according to the report.
Still, those travelers who
remained last year spent 2.4 days on the road per trip, up slightly from 2009, reflecting what VDR called "a need to catch up on foreign
travel, but also the consolidation of separate trips into longer ones."
"Business travelers are compensating for years of going
without any luxury on the trip there and back by enjoying a more pleasant stay
at their destination," according to the report, which claimed a "marked shift" to higher-tier hotel
categories. Nights in properties with a four-star or above rating comprised 47
percent of hotel stays in 2010, up from 40 percent in 2009, according to VDR
German air travelers
aren't necessarily trading up in the air segment, however, as VDR found that
"companies continue to steer
their travelers into the economy and premium economy classes for
Meanwhile, 69 percent of
respondents either "completely agree" or "tend to agree"
use of spot buying will in the future replace negotiated rates," according
to VDR. Only half of respondents in a 2006 VDR survey in agreed with that
sentiment. VDR attributed the growing prominence of spot buying to increased