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Survey: Factors Driving Business Travel Spending

2/7/2008

COST OF BUSINESS TRAVEL CLIMBS DESPITE ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN; SURVEY RESULTS REVEAL FACTORS DRIVING SPENDING DECISIONS

Industry Leaders from Best Western, JetBlue, National Business Travel Association and Advito/BCD Travel Offer Tips to Stem Financial Strain

NEW YORK (February 7, 2008) - Travel industry executives meeting last week addressed several ways companies and individual business travelers are curtailing expenses in this era of corporate belt-tightening and economic uncertainty.

Mary Ellen George, general manager of Advito, the consulting arm of BCD Travel, said that although high costs associated with business travel will not diminish any time soon, companies can use existing tools to keep their balance sheets in check.

"We're counseling clients to better enforce their company's travel policy to focus on what can be controlled," George said.

Individual business travelers and corporate travel managers both realize financial savings and other vital benefits depending upon where they choose to sleep.

"A large number of travelers are taking advantage of the value-based, all-inclusive pricing model that we and other hotel chains in the midmarket category provide," said Dorothy Dowling, senior vice president of marketing and sales for Best Western International. "Amenities such as free high-speed Internet access - standard in all Best Westerns in North America - help people save on the bottom line. In addition, rich loyalty programs like our Gold Crown Club International help increase compliance with travel policies while rewarding travelers for their continued business."

Corporate travel managers are positioning their companies to take advantage of high-value hotel options. According to the results of a new survey conducted in January by Best Western and the National Business Travel Association (NBTA), more than half (52 percent) of respondents said that complimentary high-speed Internet access is the most important amenity when considering a midmarket hotel chain. Internet access, regardless of fees, was second (16 percent) followed by the quality of bedding/towels (13 percent).

The survey also found that nearly two thirds (63 percent) of travel managers rate convenience and proximity to meeting locations as the most influential factor they consider when making individual hotel decisions. These choices can have a significant impact on transportation costs.

Bill Connors, executive director and chief operating officer for NBTA, said that companies will see a positive impact, financial and otherwise, from investing in the implementation and/or growth of their managed travel programs.

“Corporations will continue to seek out managed travel programs because they’re worried about value, cost, security and, increasingly, liability,” he said. “We’re working very hard to help our members tackle these issues so they minimally affect their bottom line.” Taxes directed toward travelers and consolidation across multiple industry sectors, as well as infrastructure and travel facilitation issues, are also top-of-mind for the association this year.

Although business travelers are being impacted by the reduction in airline seat capacity and rising fuel costs, and will likely experience decreased route and pricing options as a result of pending airline mergers, a number of widespread initiatives are underway to make air travel less stressful and more productive.

The re-slotting of John F. Kennedy International Airport should ease congestion and delays for business travelers, according to Noreen Courtney-Wilds, vice president of sales for JetBlue Airways.

“In addition to our partnership with OPEN from American Express, its small business card program, we also just added a new refundable fare, and have plans to launch a meetings and conventions program as well as a product for the mid-sized corporate market later this year,” said Courtney-Wilds. “These and other initiatives by other low-cost carriers to develop more offerings for business travelers will increase options and help keep last minute and walk-up fares competitive.”

ABOUT BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL
Best Western International is THE WORLD'S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN®, providing marketing, reservations and operational support to over 4,000* independently owned and operated member hotels in 80* countries and territories worldwide. An industry pioneer since 1946, Best Western has grown into an iconic brand that hosts 400,000* worldwide guests each night. Best Western's diverse property portfolio, its greatest strength, stems from a business model designed to give owners maximum flexibility to address market-specific needs. Equally committed to the business and leisure traveler, Best Western recently embarked on a five-year mission to lead the hotel industry in customer care. Since 2004, Best Western has served as the Official Hotel of NASCAR®. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.bestwestern.com.

*Numbers are approximate and can fluctuate.

ABOUT NBTA
The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) is the world’s premier business travel organization. U.S.-based NBTA and its regional subsidiaries – NBTA Asia Pacific, NBTA Canada and NBTA Mexico – serve more than 3,000 members in 30 nations around the globe. NBTA has 42 U.S. Chapters with more than 5,000 members. NBTA members are corporate and government travel and meetings managers, as well as travel service providers, who collectively manage and direct more than US$170 billion of global business travel expenditures annually. The association provides industry-leading networking, education & professional development, research, news & information, and advocacy. For more information, visit www.nbta.org.

ABOUT JETBLUE AIRWAYS
New York-based JetBlue Airways has created a new airline category based on value, service and style. Known for its award-winning service and free TV as much as its low fares, JetBlue is now pleased to offer customers the most legroom throughout coach (based on average fleet-wide seat pitch for U.S. airlines). JetBlue introduced complimentary in-flight e-mail and instant messaging services on aircraft “BetaBlue,” a first among U.S. domestic airlines. JetBlue is also America's first and only airline to offer its own Customer Bill of Rights, with meaningful and specific compensation for customers inconvenienced by service disruptions within JetBlue's control. Visit www.jetblue.com/promise for details. JetBlue serves 53 cities with 550 daily flights. With JetBlue, all seats are assigned, all travel is ticketless, all fares are one-way, and an overnight stay is never required. For information or reservations call 1-800-JETBLUE (1-800-538-2583) or visit www.jetblue.com.

DIRECTV(r) service is not available on flights outside the continental United States; however, where applicable FOX InFlight™ is offered complimentary on these routes. FOX InFlight is a trademark of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. JetBlue's in-flight entertainment service is provided by LiveTV, a wholly owned subsidiary of JetBlue.

ABOUT ADVITO/BCD TRAVEL
Advito provides travel management consulting services that guide clients through a complex travel environment. Advito’s focus on consulting delivers proven value, unbiased counsel and a customized approach for every client and every engagement, together with industry expertise and access to data to drive quantifiable decision-making. Advito is headquartered in Dallas and operates in key business markets around the world. Advito is an independent operating unit of BCD Travel, the world’s third-largest travel-management company, owned by BCD Holdings N.V. For more information, visit www.advito.com.

As a leading provider of global corporate travel management, BCD Travel simplifies and streamlines the business of travel. This benefits our client’s organization on every level: from the bottom-line to the business traveler. BCD Travel operates in more than 90 countries on five continents, with US$12 billion in total sales and a combined worldwide workforce in excess of 12,000. BCD Travel is a BCD Holdings N.V. company. For more information, visit www.bcdtravel.com.