Canadian business travel is expected to rise by 8% in 2015, according to Vision Travel Solutions.
“Canadians are among the most prolific business travellers in the world. We are confident business travel will grow 8% overall in Canada next year, as we’ve already seen our corporate travel business grow 10% in 2014,” says Brian Robertson, COO of Vision Travel Solutions.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) supports Vision Travel’s forecast.
“This forecasted growth in Canada is aligned with the global opportunity. Business travel in Canada continues to be robust, buoyed by a strong business economy and healthy international trade,” says Nancy Tudorache GBTA Director, Operations for Canada.
Robertson adds this positive growth is good for the economy and the industry.
“GBTA estimates global business travel spending will hit a record high of $1.31 trillion in 2014, a 6.9% growth over 2013. This kind of growth creates a trickle-down effect on the industry as a whole. Our business has grown 12% on average every year for the past five years, due largely to the impressive rebound of business travel in Canada.”
Airlines are working hard to serve the needs of business travellers, who spend 29% of their air travel time working, according to an Ipsos Reid survey of Canadian business travellers conducted for Vision Travel. The work time average rises to 47.5% for three of four who fly business class.
“With more employees on the move, companies need to make sure that they are able to perform their duties with no delays. The travel industry is adapting well to keep up with this new mobile office,” says Robertson.
He also points to the new improvements in business class cabins and airport lounges by airlines as additional proof of market demand. In 2014 alone, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Air France, Emirates and Etihad, among others, have announced major improvements in their business class products.
“Even the onboard WiFi now being offered on most airlines, I believe, has been long overdue. This particular cohort of travellers are very influential because they can really move the needle on revenue.”
The majority of travellers in business class (87%) say mobile devices enable them to remain productive while travelling. Laptops (73%) remain the device of choice, closely followed by smartphones (73%). Only four in 10 (40%) bring their tablets.
Six out of 10 business class travellers say it matters what class they fly in, and as expected an overwhelming majority (90%) prefer to travel business or first class. In reality however, Canadian business travellers mostly fly economy, 80% on average, as most of their business travel is often within Canada.
Travellers placed great importance to flying business class for international trips (75%), but when asked about a suitable alternative, respondents say flying economy is suitable for US and domestic flights. Robertson says this highlights the importance of coach.
“Airlines shouldn’t forget about improving on their economy class products. With the recent spate of seat recline rage, we know there is a threshold for what concessions the market will bear. Economy class will still drive volume, and will remain important particularly for companies who mostly do domestic travel,” he said.
Canadian companies turn to travel management companies to manage costs. Almost 70% of business travellers say their companies work with travel partners to help cut costs and 50% book their travel with a corporate travel management company.
“Nothing can replace the professional expertise of a business travel agent, especially for multi-destination trips,” says Robertson. “It’s important for us to anticipate their needs before it impacts their ability to work, which is why we provide proactive travel alerts through a mobile app as well as 24/7 customer assistance in case of any travel delays or changes.”