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Individual Business Travel Strong in Fall

8/24/2009

PHOENIX - The fall 2009 business travel season will not be as bleak for individual, or “unmanaged,” business travelers, compared to industry-projected reductions in corporate, or “managed,” travel, according to a newly-formed Best Western advisory board.

According to the group of “unmanaged” business travelers and Best Western Rewards loyalty program members who make up the Best Western Diamond 100 Advisory Board, regular business travel routines have not and will not be significantly altered by the recession, and will remain at similar levels through fall 2009.

A large majority of these “elite” tier Best Western Rewards members, who spent more than 250 nights with the World’s Largest Hotel Chain over the past five years, plan to hit the road for the same number of nights or more compared to a year ago. Though most do not foresee much change in their business travel schedules, only one-third are seeing signals of recovery in their respective industries.

These and other findings are included in a new report entitled “Taking The Pulse of Unmanaged Business Travelers: A Marketplace Research Report” which will be released later this week, toplines results from an August survey of Best Western Diamond 100 Advisory Board members. Other highlights include:

· 80 percent plan to travel for business as much or more than they did last fall

· 75 percent have not been asked to dramatically reduce business travel spending or provide more justification for trips in the last six months

· More than 80 percent have not made any permanent changes in their business travel habits due to the recession

· Fewer than one in five feel virtual alternatives such as videoconferencing are likely to replace business trips over the next six months

Henry Harteveldt, vice president and principal analyst of airline and travel research for Forrester who was interviewed for this report, says unmanaged business travelers will not only continue to account for a noticeable majority of all business travelers, but their numbers may even grow in the near future.

With more than 4,000 locations globally, Best Western provides business travelers with the tools they need to maximize travel budgets and remain productive. More than 600 Best Western hotels in the U.S. and Canada are part of the new Best Western Business Plus program, which ensures a consistent experience for individual and corporate business travelers at every participating Best Western property, including free high-speed Internet access (both in-room and in all public spaces), free local calls under 30 minutes, free long distance access and free business center access. In-room coffee/tea makers and irons and ironing boards are in every room, while breakfast and express check-out are always available, as well.

“Over our sixty-year history, we've learned that business travelers have two priorities on the road: they want to be comfortable, and they want to be productive. These go hand in hand, "said Dorothy Dowling, Best Western’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. "In addition, the unmanaged business travel insights shared by members of the Best Western Diamond 100 Advisory Board are particularly valuable because frequency programs are an increasingly critical consideration to these travelers."

According to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics North American Q1 2009 travel online study, a majority (56 percent) of U.S. business travelers are unmanaged, relatively unchanged compared to 2008. Members of the Best Western Diamond 100 Advisory Board represent a significant portion of this group, as well:

- 40 percent work for themselves or for a small company 29 percent work for companies with fewer than 5,000 employees

- Nearly half decide when to take trips instead of seeking permission from their bosses 74 percent spend less than $100 per night at hotels, with a similar number spending more than 11 nights every month on the road

- 63 percent drive instead of fly on nearly every business trip

- 88 percent are based in the U.S. and 11 percent are from Canada

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 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, as our hotels and staff sponsor children in need around the globe. 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.