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Economic Crisis Affects Business Travel

The expectations of business travelers are in a turnaround as the economic pressure has made them care less about luxury and more about the basics a hotel delivers, a recent survey said.

The survey, titled “The austere traveler: the effect of corporate cutbacks on hotels,” carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Amadeus, examined trends in business travel and its impact on hotels.

According to the survey, executives will not only hold fewer, shorter and cheaper business trips in 2009 but also will abandon luxury amenities and prefer simple and efficient services.

Close to one-half (47 percent) of the executives surveyed said that they plan to take fewer trips over the next 12 months because of the economic downturn, while over one-quarter (28 percent) expect their company to downgrade them from 5-and 4-star hotels. Also, 63 percent of the respondents expect their companies to use the financial crisis so as to achieve the best prices from hotels.

When executives were asked if the absence of specific services would stop them from staying at a budget hotel on a business trip, they gave emphasis to the minimum level of service that they expect from a low-cost alternative.

Therefore, Internet connectivity is far more important for the majority of executives (76 percent) in contrast to a quiet room (56 percent), good transportation (54 percent) or the central location (52 percent).

However, what is not apparently considered as important -in either budget or full-service hotels- is the quality of the business facilities. Only 24 percent of respondents said that the lack of business center facilities would stop them from staying at a budget hotel.

At higher-end hotels the figure was even smaller as it reached 13 percent although a further 37 percent cite them as somewhat important.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, these results indicate that travelers on business trips count value-by-value, integrated services and efficiency.

It was found that executives consider an efficient check in/check out (68 percent), flexibility to change requirements such as last minute cancellation (64 percent) and rapid resolution to problems (59 percent), as the best indicators of good service in hotels.

The Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed 354 executives in Asia, Europe and North America in November and December 2008 to obtain their views on how global economic downturn will feed into corporate travel plans, with particular focus on the impact on the hotel sector.

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About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.

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