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Mena business travel ‘on the rise’

More than 43 per cent of Mena business travelers reported an increase in travel budgets during 2012, as against 35 per cent in 2010 and 41 per cent the previous year, according to a recent survey.

The outlook for next year is optimistic, said the 2012 YouGov Travel Oracle report, with nearly half of business travelers surveyed in the GCC saying they expect their business travel to increase in the coming year.

In particular, Algerian respondents were the most confident, with almost a quarter (24 per cent) expecting their business trips to ‘increase a lot’, the report said.

Males were more positive about the coming year, with one-in-six male business travelers (17 per cent) saying their business travel will ‘increase a lot’, compared to one-in-eight (13 per cent) females.

The most popular business travel destinations for Mena travelers surveyed in 2012 were the UAE (14 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (9 per cent), highlighting these areas as business hubs.

Interestingly, only 4 per cent of Mena business travelers visited Egypt, on par with 2011 results (4 per cent), and still below 2010 (7 per cent), showing that business travel to the market remains diminished in the wake of the revolution and change in leadership.

Looking forward, UAE respondents most commonly expect to visit Qatar (6 per cent), India (5 per cent), China (5 per cent) and Saudi Arabia (5 per cent) for business in the next 12 months.

Almost one-third (29 per cent) of business travelers surveyed flew in a premium class in 2012 (12 per cent in first class and 17 per cent in business class). Interestingly, one of the most common travel policies enforced by companies was ‘class of service depending on seniority’ (selected by 28 per cent of business travelers surveyed).

Other typical travel policies regulate ‘ticket price limit’ and ‘choice of airline’. In terms of selecting an airline, one-third of respondents with a corporate policy on airline choice say they have the freedom to choose one if they can justify their choice, and just over a quarter can select a cheaper alternative. On the other hand, one-in-five respondents (19 per cent) state there is absolutely no choice; the airline is chosen by the organization.

Increased travel budgets are also apparent in the way respondents are booking their travel; with an increasing proportion of respondents this year indicating a third-party organized their trip (either a travel department in their company or a travel agent).

Whereas, in 2010, 29 per cent of business travelers surveyed organized their flight directly with the company, a task which is likely to have required more time but cost less, 2011 saw this number fall to 25 per cent and in 2012 only 24 per cent of respondents said they organized their flight directly with the company.

The Travel Oracle was conducted using the YouGov Online Panel and all questionnaires were completed between the December 17, 2012 and January 14, 2013. The results are based on a total sample of 22,429 respondents.

YouGov is a full service market research agency, with proprietary online panels, that covers the entire Mena region, Pakistan and India.


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