Airline “Direct Connects” equal dramatic concerns for Business Travel Buyers

NBTA Foundation Survey Finds an Overwhelming Majority of Business Travel Buyers Project a “Direct Connect” Distribution Strategy Will Result in Higher Costs and Negative Impacts on the Industry

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Alexandria, VA (January 28, 2011) – A new survey of 244 business travel buyers released today by the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) Foundation has revealed that a vast majority of respondents (89%) expect an increase in travel costs if the airline industry moves to a “Direct Connect” model that bypasses the existing travel distribution system.  Almost three-quarters (72%) believe a shift to a Direct Connect-type system would have a negative impact on the business travel industry, and over half (59%) of travel managers said they would be “very concerned” if other airlines pursue similar distribution strategies.

“Business travel buyers have spoken and they overwhelmingly indicate that the “direct connect” approach for airfare distribution is a pricey strategy that will result in higher costs for companies and negatively impact the business travel industry as a whole,” said Mike McCormick, executive director and COO, NBTA.

“Since this issue began, we have focused on ensuring that the voice of the business travel buyer is heard and included in this discussion.  These findings underscore the gravity of the issue for travel buyers and the need to push for the values most important to NBTA members and fundamental to the business travel marketplace: transparency and competition,” continued McCormick. “NBTA will continue to listen to our membership and advocate for travel buyers on this issue.”

The survey also found that nine in ten travel managers (90%) are aware of the dispute between American Airlines and Travelport regarding American’s use of the Direct Connect booking system.  Highlighting travel managers’ concerns about the dispute, less than half of respondents (48%) feel it is likely that American and Travelport will be able to resolve this friction and retain a working relationship.

The online survey of travel managers in the U.S. was conducted on January 25-26, 2011.

The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) is the world’s premier business travel and corporate meetings organization. NBTA and its regional affiliates – NBTA Australia/New Zealand, the Brazilian Business Travel Association (ABGEV), NBTA Canada, NBTA Europe, NBTA Mexico, and NBTA USA – serve a network of more than 17,000 business travel professionals around the globe with industry-leading events, networking, education & professional development, research, news & information, and advocacy. NBTA members, numbering more than 5,000 in 30 nations, are corporate and government travel and meetings managers, as well as travel service providers. They collectively manage and direct more than US$340 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually on behalf of more than 13 million business travelers within their organizations. For more information, visit nbta.org.

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