The travel and airline industries are again in the spotlight. For the first time, The Leaders Declaration for the recent G20 Summit highlighted the pivotal role of the travel and tourism industries, specially:
25. We recognize the role of travel and tourism as a vehicle for job creation, economic growth and development, and, while recognizing the sovereign right of States to control the entry of foreign nationals, we will work towards developing travel facilitation initiatives in support of job creation, quality work, poverty reduction and global growth.
This is the first time that the G20 leaders have included travel.
The U.S. government released its National Travel and Tourism Strategy earlier this year. This week, in Canada, the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communication released its report recognizing the need for a "a single, cohesive national air travel strategy.
The business travel industry is still facing significant challenges. For example, while the new American Express ACTE index @ACTEtweets reported a 17% increase in global business travel activity in Q1 2012, American Express Travel reported business travel cuts in Asia-Pacific:
- Business travel facing cuts in Asia-Pacific, Amex warns (The Australian)
BUSINESS airfares in the Asia-Pacific have cooled and a significant number of companies in the region expect to cut business travel spending in the next 12 months, American Express has warned. Research by Amex shows about a third of the senior finance executives at some of the region's biggest companies expect to increase spending this year but only 5 per cent expect to boost their travel budgets by more than 10 per cent.
Airlines around the globe continue to face pressure due to fluctuating oil prices. In an attempt to boost profits, they are seeking to woo more corporate travelers with enhanced incentives and amenities.
Carriers from Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines to Singapore Airlines offer extra leg room and flat-bed seats in business class. Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways both offer complimentary return airport transfers anywhere in the United Arab Emirates. (This is also offered at some destinations.) Turkish Airlines has Comfort Class, an enhanced economy class, with wider seats on long-haul flights, personal monitors, footrests, and upgraded catering options.
The Toronto Star recently reported some of the initiatives that airlines are rolling out for business travelers:
"The chase is on for the corporate trekker. Airlines are racing to fill premium cabins on their planes with bed-like seats. They’re speeding up access to the Web. And they’re carving out space in coach class for those who’ll pay more to stretch their legs. The goal? To woo business travelers, who often book the more expensive, last-minute fares, as well as others willing to pay more to fly. The premium-paying customer has always been valuable, but they’re more important than ever as airlines grapple with up and down fuel prices and try to compete in an industry increasingly dominated by a handful of mega-sized competitors."
- Virgin America: Wi-Fi Internet
- Virgin America: Business and entrepreneurs spending more than $20,000 in a specified period can receive 3% of what they spend in future travel credits
- American Airlines: Samsung Tablets
Event and meeting planners have an opportunity to deliver more value for corporate and incentive travel by taking advantage of these new business travel offerings.