Survey predicts fast growth in business travel

Updated: 2013-05-23 03:03

By Chen Jia (China Daily)

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Chinese managers say they are likely to spend more on business travel in the next 12 months, according to a new survey, which bodes well for the country's burgeoning corporate travel market.

The study by AirPlus International, a German company that provides business travel payment solutions, said that China is now considered the world's fastest-growing market for business travel, and that the sector is expected to continue expanding.

It gathered responses from 100 corporate travel managers from China, within a total of 2,101 travel managers in 24 countries, including the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Forty-one percent of the Chinese respondents said they expect more trips over the next 12 months, up from 31 percent the year before, against the global average of 32 percent, AirPlus said.

The report also showed that just over half of the Chinese managers predicted travel expenditure to rise in the coming year, a sharp rise from the 29 percent in 2012.

Volker Huber, president of the Americas, Asia Pacific and global sales at AirPlus, said that the expected growth of business travel in China is supported by the strong economic outlook, and he expects the local market has considerable room to expand further.

"Compared with developed countries, more companies in emerging markets, including China, India and Mexico, are enjoying a rapid development of their manufacturing and service industries, which demand that managers travel often on business," Huber said.

Lucy Wang, AirPlus' managing director in China, said that the company's 2012 revenue increased 46.5 percent on the year before to 2.9 billion yuan ($468 million), representing its fastest growth among the 60 countries in which it operates.

The company — which claims over 40,000 corporate customers around the world, being provided with products to support business travel payments, accounting, and analysis functions — is targeting annual revenues of 3.9 billion yuan from China by the end of this year.

"Chinese corporate business travel expenditure is predicted to increase by 15.1 percent in 2013, up to 1.38 trillion yuan," Wang added, and that by the end of 2015 the market is likely to overtake the US to become the world's largest.

However, the global story was less exciting.

"Next year will see the lowest growth in business travel since the peak of the global financial crisis in 2008," the AirPlus report concluded.

Only 32 percent of the polled said there will be more business travel in the next 12 months, the second-lowest in the eight years the company has produced the figures.

Nearly 24 percent of managers from industrialized areas, such as Western Europe, said they expected travel volume to rise in 2013, against 43 percent from fast-growing markets, such as the Asia-Pacific region, who predicted more travel this year.

AirPlus' Managing Director Patrick Diemer said the company had expanded its activities consistently in new international growth markets, such as Australia, where "there is a particularly high need" for its services.

In 2012, AirPlus earned 11.4 billion euros ($14.7 billion) in billing sales for its business travel products and solutions, a 10 percent increase year-on-year. Its travel volume rose by 16 percent.