The UK’s major travel management groups enjoyed a record year for business in 2007, with the Guild of Travel Management Companies reporting total bookings close to 14 million.
The 14% year-on-year rise in transactions came despite growth in airline bookings halving in the last three months of the year as the economy slowed – down to 4% from an average 8% in the period from April to September.
GTMC chief executive Philip Carlisle hailed the fourth-quarter results, saying: “They provide a real cause for celebration. Our leaders were warning of a spectacular slump, but Britain’s business community took no notice.”
The GTMC’s members booked 6.8 million flights last year – up 6% on 2007 – and 3.2 million hotel reservations, up 20%.
Rail bookings rose 23% to 2.8 million, car-rental transactions increased 12% to 400,000 and ancillary sales – of travel insurance, visa services and car parking – rose 27% to 676,000.
“The year turned out even better than we hoped,” said Carlisle. He said the growth in hotel bookings, which outstripped that of flights, suggests business travellers are making better use of their time away by visiting more than one location.
Carlisle suggested the rise in rail bookings reflected a move towards greener travel options.