Earlier this month, we asked a core group of Best Western’s best customers about their outlook for business travel in 2011. Overall, these members of Best Western’s Diamond 100 Advisory Board (BWD100) see gradual improvement when it comes to trip volume, spending levels and economic recovery. This brighter outlook comes to light when we compared findings from a similar survey taken one year ago.
The below is the second in a two-part series that examines some key findings. Part one can be found here.
>Economic outlook is mixed, but improving. While business travel is trending up, BWD100 members are split when it comes to their outlook for the overall economy: half say that they are seeing positive signs that signal economic recovery in 2011; half say they are not. When asked the same question this time last year, members were also evenly split. However, when we asked the same question in mid-2009, only 36 percent of members said they had seen signs that the economic outlook was brightening at that point.
+ “I work in the garden center supply business and it seems like people are starting to freshen up their properties.”
+ “Significant growth in demand for our services is expected in 2011.”
+ “We are in real estate, so it’s tough. But expansion and creative thinking have kept us afloat and should continue to do so.”
+ “I’ve noticed recently that the ‘FULL’ sign at Best Westerns is on more often than before. Not always good news for me, but probably good news for the economy!”
+ “The industrial plants I visit are running flat out!”
+ “I’m in the jewelry business and our sales have been much better in recent months and I’m expecting strong Christmas sales.”
+ “I’m getting more inquiries from people asking for metal roof replacement instead of just repairs.”
+ “I work with farmers, and commodity type crops such as wheat and corn seem to have stronger pricing.”
– “From what I see, the economy is stagnant!”
– “We are seeing more customer branch closures and consolidations, so it’s probably worse.”
– “The defense industry is suffering from reduced government spending.”
>Travel to meetings, conventions and trade shows should remain about the same in 2011 as in 2010.
+ “Our company is having a buyers fair for the first time in about five years.”
+ “We’ve increased our number of conferences by about 30% this year.”
+ “Conventions and trade shows are the best way to see what’s happening with our competitors across the country.”
– “I seem to be doing more conference calls than traveling and attending conferences.”
>Purse strings loosening…but slowly. When it comes to controls on business travel spending, 72 percent said they expect little change in 2011 with several sources saying that tighter controls were put into place in 2009.
“I found out this week that our company is cutting out daily meal expense by $10.”
“We’ve already tightened up a lot on spending in 2010.”
“Everyone is cutting expenses wherever they can. However, I won’t give up quality service for a small decrease in price.”
>BWD100 members are a loyal lot–55 percent say that Best Western got most or all of their hotel business over the last 12 months.
>86 percent said that Best Western would get the same amount or more business from them in 2011.