Nearly half (53%) of American business travelers who planned to travel through the remainder of 2008 say their travel plans have been somehow affected by the bad economy, and 21% of leisure travelers expect to cancel or postpone a trip this year, according to a poll by Ipsos.
The survey, which examines the impact of the current economic crisis on business and leisure travel across the country, finds that while many are still traveling for both work and pleasure in 2008, there is an immediate, noticeable change in travel patterns that suggests a worsening picture for 2009.
Business Travelers Replace Trips with Technology
When asked how their travel plans have been affected by the worsening economy:
- 8% of US business travelers say they have already canceled a business trip they were planning to make by year-end.
- 6% are considering canceling a business trip planned for 2008.
- 10% have postponed a scheduled business trip until after January 1, 2009.
In addition, some business travelers in the US plan to use technology to replace face-to-face meetings: Slightly more than one-in-ten (13%) plan to substitute some of their 2008 business travel with conference calls and webinars, where appropriate.
The remaining business travelers in the US either expect to continue with their business trips as planned (47%), or a plan to take their scheduled business trips but are doing so with caveats from their employers to be mindful of travel expenses (16%).
While business travel is under pressure for the remainder of 2008, the picture is bleaker for 2009. Among US business travelers:
- Four-in-ten (40%) say they expect to travel less often for business in 2009 compared with 2008.
- Two-in-ten (22%) expect to travel more for business in 2009.
- Almost four-in-ten (38%) say they expect to travel the same amount for business in 2009 as they did in 2008.
“The results show that business travelers have already taken action to account for the deteriorating economy,” said Jim Quilty, VP with Ipsos’ Travel and Tourism division. “The replacement of travel with webinars and conference calls, along with the strong expectation of less travel in 2009 are both especially worrisome trends for the industry.”
Leisure Travelers Expect Less Travel in 2009
In the world of leisure travel, a similar story emerges. In total, 21% of leisure travelers plan to cancel or postpone a trip through the remainder of 2008:
- One-in-ten (10%) Americans say they have already cancelled a leisure trip they were planning to make by year-end.
- A smaller proportion say they are considering cancelling a leisure trip they planned to take by year-end (4%).
- Have postponed a scheduled leisure trip until after January 1, 2009 (7%).
Regarding 2009 leisure travel:
- Almost four-in-ten (37%) Americans say they expect to travel less often for leisure in 2009.
- Two-in-ten (20%) expect they will travel more often for leisure next year.
- Just over four-in-ten (43%) Americans expect they will travel the same amount for leisure in 2009 as they did in 2008.
“One of the few bright spots today is lowered gasoline prices which offers relief for the holiday drive market,” said Quilty. “However, the current financial crisis, as evidenced by falling real estate values, rising unemployment and missed corporate profit expectations, appears to be offsetting any positive developments and leisure and business travel expectations for 2009 are weakening.”
About the survey: The Ipsos poll was conducted from November 3-10, 2008. This online survey of 1,055 US adults (age 18+) was conducted via Ipsos’ online panel.