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BW Business Travel Board Finds Growth in 2010

3/18/2010

BEST WESTERN BUSINESS TRAVEL ADVISORY BOARD FINDS INCREASE IN BUSINESS TRIPS, NEW GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES IN 2010

More Than Half of Best Western Diamond 100 Members Report Favorable Signs of New Activity In Their Industries, Up from 37 Percent in Mid-2009

NEW YORK (March 18, 2010) – Results from a new survey of unmanaged business travelers in Best Western’s loyalty program, Best Western Rewards®, provide further indication that the effects of the recession are easing and that more people plan to hit the road for business again in 2010.

Survey findings were a key discussion point at this year’s annual Best Western Business Travel Summit, held yesterday for members of the media in New York. A panel of experts including Dorothy Dowling, Best Western’s senior vice president of sales and marketing; Mike McCormick, executive director and COO of the National Business Travel Association; and Jesal Meswani, vice president of global commercial products for MasterCard discussed a wide range of topics important to business travelers who are adjusting to a “new normal” following changes taking place during the recession.

As a sign of ongoing economic recovery, positive indicators in industries such as aerospace, maritime, petroleum and food are being seen, according to members of the Best Western Diamond 100 (BWD100) Advisory Board. Made up of nearly 400 of the brand’s best customers, BWD100 members work for small and medium sized companies, or for themselves. These business travelers drive more often than they fly and often make their own travel decisions, rather than relying on travel agents or corporate travel managers.

“The positive signals indicated in this recent survey are in line with recent data from American Express and others that show a slow but steady return to business travel as the year progresses,” said Chris McGinnis, editor for Best Western’s blog, YouMustBeTrippin.com and manager of the survey. “More than 20 percent of BWD100 members, for example, said they plan on taking more business trips in the coming months, compared with just 11 percent back in July of 2009.”

Other key findings from the survey include:

•"My territory is vast and personal contact is the best way for us to generate new and ongoing business," said a member planning to travel more in 2010. On a similar note, another member said, "I need to be in front of my customers more than before."
•More than 60 percent expect to control their business travel spending habits the same way they did in 2009.
•While many pointed to an improving economy as the reason for an increased number of trips, some said they'll travel more because of recent downsizing. "Layoffs have caused sales territory consolidation, so I'll be traveling more than usual to fill the holes until the economy heals," wrote one member.
•The so-called "hassle factor" of air travel (new fees, security issues, delays) is having little impact on this group's decision to fly or drive. Just over 70 percent report that air travel hassles will not result in fewer plane trips.

For more of the survey’s findings or to speak with its author, please contact McGinnis at Chris.McGinnis@bestwestern.com.

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. Equally committed to the business and leisure traveler, Best Western recently embarked on a mission to lead the hotel industry in customer care. World Vision is the charity of choice for Best Western in building the world's largest family, with our hotels and staff sponsoring children in need around the globe. Our partnerships with AAA/CAA, Michael Waltrip Racing and Harley-Davidson help guests make the most of every trip. For the fastest way to a free night, join Best Western Rewards®, the only hotel frequency program that's truly global. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.bestwestern.com

*Numbers are approximate and can fluctuate.