Just a day after prime minister Theresa May announced she was postponing the parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal, a survey by the Business Travel Show reveals that corporate buyers are worried that leaving the European Union will continue to be a challenge as far ahead as 2022.
For the first time in four years, cost-cutting was bumped off the top of the list of travel buyers’ concerns for the next 12 months. It was replaced by Brexit, which was in fourth place in the previous two years.
Airbus UK travel manager Geoff Allwright went so far as to say that Brexit is the one thing that ‘keeps him awake at night’.
Despite their fears, 65 per cent of those polled don’t have a post-Brexit plan in place.
Duty of care and traveller risk have dropped off the list completely for 2019 after taking the number two slot in the previous two surveys, while cutting costs, budget, airline pricing and availability round out this year’s top five.
Buyers were also asked what they believe their biggest challenges will be in three years’ time, with Brexit and cost-cutting remaining in the first and second slots, respectively. Coming in third was New Distribution Capability (NDC), while traveller safety and travel alternatives finished off the top five.
Visas appeared on the list at number seven, showing travel buyers are considering the impact of changes to travel requirements after the UK leaves the EU.
David Chapple, group event director of the Business Travel Show, commented: “Whether for or against the UK leaving the European Union, the last few months have been particularly frustrating and baffling for both sides leaving everyone possibly even more uncertain about any potential outcomes than they were a year or two ago. Because of that, I think our poll captures the Zeitgeist perfectly and it doesn’t surprise me that – right now – buyers are more concerned about Brexit than cost-cutting.”
Additionally, when buyers were asked what the biggest change in the way they buy or manage travel in the next 12 months will be, they responded with ‘no change’ at number one, followed by an increase in online bookings, pressure to reduce costs, managing suppliers more efficiently and appointing or changing TMC.
The Business Travel Show takes place 20-21 February at Olympia London. Buyers can register for a free visitor pass at businesstravelshow.com/register, while those with a minimum annual spend of £1 million can apply to attend as a hosted buyer at businesstravelshow.com/hosted-buyers