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Business Travel To Continue Downhill Slide; Some Cuts Permanent

By Deborah Austin Business travel could decline even further this year -- with some cutbacks permanent -- suggests the 2002 U.S. Business Travel Survey conducted by the Business Travel Coalition. Many of the reductions were planned before the events of Sept. 11. In the spring 2001 survey, respondents' average annualized cost-reduction goal for U.S. travel and entertainment expenses already was 28% -- with 86% citing some portion as permanent. The 2002 survey -- which focused solely on air travel -- shows 60% planning further spending reductions and 74% confirming that some cuts made in 2001 and 2002 are permanent. Other findings:

  • Business airfares are perceived as too high; 68.5% plan to increase segments on low-fare airlines.
  • Substitutes to the commercial-airline product have become mainstream. Eighty-six percent of participants plan increased use of technology-based substitutes like videoconferencing; 77% say more travelers are driving cars for trips under 500 miles.
  • The time may be ripe for a "Trusted Traveler" air-travel-prescreening program; 68.5% express support. The Business Travel Coalition, Radnor, Pa., advocates public policy and supplier issues of concern to customers to the business travel industry.
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