Industry Consolidation Continues
The end of the year is not slowing the pace of consolidation within the TMC world. Frosch, based in New York and Houston, announced it is buying Summit Travel Group, based in San Mateo, Calif., just south of San Francisco. Both firms specialize in high end leisure and high touch corporate accounts.
Meanwhile, London-based GlobalStar is growing its global reach by adding affiliates in Angola, Nigeria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Mark van Iersel, director of marketing and partner recruitment, said GlobalStar expected to continue its expansion and have all major African markets covered by the middle of 2013.
CFOs Stay the Spending Course
Senior financial executives plan to continue current levels of business travel spending into 2013. That’s what 200 chief financial officers and other C-suite financial leaders told American Express. More than half of CFOs, 52%, said 2013 spending negotiations will not be completed before Dec. 31 because of uncertainties surrounding the fiscal cliff budget talks in Washington. But 61% of senior financial execs expect to spend the same or more on travel in 2013 compared to this year.
Open booking is not winning many senior-level converts. Nearly two-thirds of top execs, 64%, said they expect no loosening of travel policy restrictions in 2013. A similar majority, 67%, expect the U.S. economy to improve or remain flat in 2013 while 85% expect the European Union to return flat to lower results next year.
European Biz Travel, Budgets Hold Steady Despite Recession
Continuing recessionary woes will keep a lid on European business travel spending, but companies plan to maintain travel going into 2013. That’s the bottom line from a new survey by American Express Global Business Travel of more than 500 European firms. Over the past year, 63% of European companies held the line on business travel spending while 23% increased spending. Most of the companies surveyed, 73%, plan to maintain 2012 spending levels and 16% plan to increase travel spending. The Amex findings mirror projections from Carlson Wagonlit Travel that business travel spending in Europe will remain flat through 2013 and into 2014.
Best and Worst U.S. Airports
Now that business travel is at its lowest ebb of the year, travel buyers can take a deep breath and contemplate the stress that comes with travel. Chicago O’Hare tops the list of most stressful U.S. airports, according to a recent survey from Concur, followed by Los Angeles International and JFK in New York. The sheer distance between gates and terminals at O’Hare is the biggest challenge, while JFK had some of the longest lines. Other common problems included confusing airport signage, poor service from airport staff, not enough restroom space and not enough electrical outlets in passenger waiting areas. On the up side, Dallas-Fort Worth got road warrior approval as the hassle-free airport, due largely to clear signage, good Wi-fi coverage, and a good variety of quality food options.
German Carrier Helps Enforce Travel Policy
A low cost carrier in Germany is adding a new feature to appeal to business travel buyers. Germanwings, a low cost regional carrier owned by Lufthansa, will help companies enforce travel policy restrictions. Starting next July 1, companies will be able to block travelers from putting ancillary options such as priority check in, airport lounge passes and other perks on the corporate account.
The move is designed to appeal to growing demands for frugality by European business travel buyers. The purchase restrictions are also designed to fend of lower-cost, lower-service carriers including Ryanair and easyJet. Lufthansa and other mainline carriers are moving much of their short-haul service to low-cost regional affiliates or subsidiaries. The switch to Germanwings does not include flights out of Lufthansa’s primary hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.
Where Laptops Fly Away
Does your company send travelers to or through Chicago? Warn them to keep a tight grip on electronic devices. According to Vancouver, British Columbia-based Absolute Software, Chicago is the number one city for laptop thefts in North America. The Windy City produced 12.5% of theft claims, followed by Houston (11.9%) and Detroit (11.3%).
When it comes to airport thefts, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International is worst, racking up 18% of all airport laptop thefts worldwide. Runners up were Miami International (12%) and a three-way tie between Chicago O’Hare, Orlando and San Francisco (7%). Most airport laptop thefts, 29%, took place in luggage or storage areas. The terminal and boarding areas were second at 22% and 18% of thefts occurred on aircraft.
Business Travel Bad for Travelers
Business travelers don’t often use adjectives like “delightful,” “easy” or “fun” to describe road warrior life. But research for AirPlus International found that business is worse than unpleasant. Frequent international business travel can produce decreases in mental capacity, increase stress and reduce productivity. Compared to non-traveling colleagues, travelers show lower mental capacity, communication skills, concentration, engagement and tolerance combined with an increased risk of ill health.
Expense Most Truthful
“At the end of the day, expense, as long as you have a timely process, is the preferred source of truth as to what was actually spent during a trip.” – Norm Rose, president, Travel Technology Consulting