Here's a welcome bit of good news for travel firms to start 2017: the number of business travel buyers with higher budgets is on the increase for the first time in four years, new research reveals.
Near-on a third (32%) of buyers will have more money to spend this year compared to 2016, up from 29% at this point last year, according to the seventh annual Business Travel Show forecast.
The percentage of buyers saying they have a bigger budget than the previous year had fallen every year for the past four years, with 39% of buyers reporting to have more money to spend in 2013.
While we're not back up to those sorts of levels just yet, travel firms will be pleased to see buyers' budgets back on an upward curve.
Breaking down those budgets, 40% of buyers said they will have a greater airline budget in 2017, the highest number for the last three years, with only 15% of buyers reporting a smaller budget. Last year, nearly a quarter (24%) of buyers said they'd have to find a way to cut costs on airline travel.
However, under a third (32%) of buyers will have more to spend on accommodation, down from 38% last year. Encouragingly, though, just 14% report a smaller accommodation budget, compared to 21% last year.
Looking forward, 38% of buyers expect their total travel costs to rise over the next 12 months and 48% will be planning more trips.
Efforts are being made to keep a lid on costs, though, with significant increases in the use of budget airlines, Uber and car rental services, and mid-range and budget hotels.
This will ultimately have an impact on the quality of the trip, however. Unsurprisingly, then, the top issue facing buyers in 2017 is cutting costs while maintaining quality – the same as last year.
Interestingly, though, 77% of buyers still do not use Airbnb in a bid to drive down costs – but 17% did spend more money with them in 2016.
What do the findings tell us?
While 69% of buyers are reporting the same or more to spend on travel on 2017, they are going to have to make their money work harder, with travel costs also expected to rise. This leaves buyers wondering how they can cut costs without having to skimp on quality. This isn't going to be easy with Brexit potentially impacting the strength of sterling.
It's down to travel bands to provide some solutions.
As you go about engaging business travel buyers, you've got to make sure your website is enticing enough for them to want to seek out your solutions and become paid customers. To help get your website in shape for 2017...