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Austerity in Europe: Business Travel Changes in the EU

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We’ve looked at the issues the average European traveler faces, examining transportation and culture in light of austerity cutbacks within the EU. But what about the business traveler? See how business travel has changed in the conclusion to Charles Edward Hicks’ series on the effects of austerity measures in the EU.

European austerity measures have dampened the international business travel industry in both the United States and Europe, but some countries will start making a comeback next year. Last month, the Global Business Travel Association released a report of the five European countries with the most critical travel markets that projects the rate of international outbound spending this year will dip 2.8 percent in the United Kingdom, 1.4 percent in Germany, and 2.7 percent in France.

However, GBTA projects improvement in these three countries in 2013. The United Kingdom is likely to experience “a full recovery” in business travel in 2013, according to the report, in part due to the UK not being directly affected by the euro crisis. Short of the European banking industry collapsing, international business travel is expected to grow moderately in Germany next year and remain stable in France.

At a micro-level, this means if companies are sending employees to Europe at all, they are cutting standard luxuries.

“We used to see customers that were constantly going business class over to Europe reduce expenses and set policies that all they’re allowed to go to is coach,” says Jerry Saxe, vice president of sales for Carlisle Travel Management. “If they want to go business or first, they have to use their own points to upgrade.”

Though Carlisle’s European business has increased due to signing new accounts this past year, he says the majority of other companies were not so fortunate. Saxe says in many cases, fluctuation within the business travel market is determined by a certain destination’s economy.

“If I was to take the overall from 2008 until today, the past four years, I would say that there has been a decrease in (travel to) Europe, an increase in Asia, and an increase to South America, more so to Brazil, which, as we all know, that Brazil’s economy is growing.”

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