Business travellers avoiding cheapest airfares, says research

Business travellers are changing their behaviour as the economy turns down, but not by booking the cheapest flights.

Travel management company Hogg Robinson Group reports clients are avoiding the cheapest, most restricted air fares and low-cost carriers and opting instead for flexible fares that do not carrier penalties for cancellation.

HRG also suggests corporate clients are sticking with preferred carriers on routes they fear might otherwise be cancelled and limiting the numbers attending meetings.

Director of client management Stewart Harvey said: “There is closer scrutiny as to whether travel is necessary and companies are paying more attention to the reason behind a trip.

“There is also a trend to avoid highly restrictive fares and select the lowest mid-range fare which has flexibility rather than choose a low-cost carrier with full cancellation penalties.”

Harvey added: “Clients appreciate the stability of preferred carriers [and are] supporting them to ensure certain routes which may be at risk of cancellation.”

Some companies are also requesting video-conferencing facilities as an alternative to booking a flight. Harvey suggested traffic to the US is among the most affected by the downturn, describing it as “feeling the brunt of the financial situation”.

The Guild of Travel Management Companies reported a 1% fall in corporate air-travel bookings in May, following a similar downturn over the first three months of the year.

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