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September 30, 2009

Travel and meetings management converges as more businesspeople stay at home

Nearly a third of people who manage travel are now also planning meetings and events, while business travel is in decline, according to recent research by the Institute of Travel & Meetings (ITM) UK & Ireland.

The findings are based on research across its members who buy and manage travel and events for their companies, representing expenditure in excess of £34 billion worldwide. 

The survey looks at specific elements within the demand and supply lines, and the likelihood of convergence across meetings and communications technology.
Key findings
The ITM research found that:
– 31% of buyers manage a combined travel and meetings programme
– Those with consolidated travel and meetings programmes estimated 17% total savings achieved due to consolidation alone
– 80% already manage, or intended to manage in the next two years, communication technology alongside travel
– Environment alone is likely to account for a long-term reduction in travel by around 12%
– Alternative technology alone is likely to account for a long term reduction of around 18%
“With an estimated total impact of environment and technology reaching 30% in reduced demand over the next 10 years, the converged management of communication technology with travel and meetings seems inevitable,” says ITM chief executive Paul Tilstone.

“The likely impact on the supply of these sectors is yet to materialise in any clear form at a time when survival is the name of the game, but when revenues return real change can be expected.”
Tilstone adds that the research was another reason why the association was planning a summit by high-end video conference technology in 2010 with buyers across the globe.
Pricing policies
The research also tested the reactions of companies to the pricing policies of suppliers, including rail companies, airlines and intermediaries. The responses suggest that rail needs to significantly reduce fares to ensure competitiveness, and buyers expect intermediaries, such as travel management companies (TMC’s) and hotel booking agencies (HBAs), to reduce even further in the coming years.
“It is interesting to see pricing coming under further scrutiny when you might expect the present conditions to have caused these to bottom out,” says Colin Goldney, managing director of ITM’s research partner, Argate.

“When you stand these results against the research undertaken at the beginning of the year, it does support other evidence we are seeing that buyers are looking to drive traffic online and to automate processes as much as possible.”



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