Skift Take

The big question for business travelers is whether companies will continue to focus on driving down costs, or begin to focus on improving the traveler experience once again.

Rising costs, and an uncertain global economy, have caused corporate travel managers to expect more conservative growth in business travel this year.

A new survey from AirPlus International finds that travel managers expect increased costs to complicate spending for corporations going forward.

“One headline trend is that a growing minority of travel managers (19 percent) believe the travel market will slow down,” reads part one of the AirPlus International Travel Management Survey 2016. “Though small, this is still the highest number to forecast a fall for the following 12 months since the financial crisis broke in 2009. The BRICS countries (with the notable exception of India, which is the brightest performer of all 24 countries in the study) lead the nations most expecting a travel slowdown. Reasons could include the flattening economy in China and big falls in commodity prices.”

Airplus surveyed 847 travel managers along with 1,158 business travelers worldwide on their corporate travel outlook for 2016.

Here are the top three takeaways from the survey.

Travel managers expect the economy to have a negative effect on business travel in 2016

Travel managers in India had the most positive outlook for business travel, followed by managers in the UK and U.S. Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Australia and Switzerland had the most negative outlook.

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A smaller proportion of travel managers expect volume to increase this year compared to last– but the sky isn’t falling

Travel managers are slightly more pessimistic about volume growth this year, but the reduction in optimism is mostly regional. Only Russian and Brazilian travel managers expected trip numbers to decline in 2016, among 24 countries polled.

“It is important not to exaggerate the changing trend,” reads the study. “After all, only two countries have more travel managers this year expecting trip numbers to go down rather than up: Russia and Brazil. Even so, the overall conclusion is that while the outlook for travel remains more positive than negative, the situation is less rosy than it was in 2015.”

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Travel managers expect big corporate travel spenders to keep spending, and small corporate travel spenders to travel less due to higher prices

Airfares are supposed to eat up the most business travel spend this year, followed by hotel stays and meetings.

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Tags: business travel, corporate travel, ctir

Photo credit: The San Francisco skyline in 2013. Chris Chabot / Flickr

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