UK travel managers are optimistic about the next 12 months but are cracking down on unauthorised spend, the annual Airplus International survey has concluded.

UK corporates were moving heavily in the direction of a managed travel policy, the survey showed, with the number of businesses without one falling sharply from 16 per cent to only 6 per cent in a year. Similarly, the proportion of companies having a policy for all aspects of their progamme has increased from 67 per cent to 81 per cent.

Airplus surveyed 2,101 travel managers in 24 global locations in late 2012. It found that only 7 per cent of UK managers said they would be booking fewer trips in 2014, compared with 14 per cent throughout Western Europe. However, a sizable minority of UK managers (38 per cent), expected travel costs to rise, more than the 28 per cent in Western Europe. Perhaps because of this, 45 per cent said they could make savings on air fares and 54 per cent on hotel spend.

One area where UK companies were lacking was in securing corporate airline rates. The number rose two percentage points to 46 per cent, but lagged behind the rest of Europe at 54 per cent. Airplus believes this is due to the preponderance of budget airlines in the UK, which encourages a ‘buy on the day’ policy. The number having preferred pricing deals with hotels fell sharply from 82 per cent to 69 per cent. AirPlus says this is perhaps an indication that budget hotel brands, which do not generally offer corporate deals, are having an impact.  

Other trends were identified, including the beginnings of the move to mobile payment, with five per cent saying all their staff used it. Nearly a quarter of companies offset carbon emissions.

Airplus UK managing director Yael Klein said: “What really stands out for me this year is that UK GDP growth remains stuck in a narrow band either side of zero per cent, yet it is not stopping British companies boarding flights in search of new business.”

She added that four times as many UK respondents thought trip numbers would grow compared to those who predicted they would reduce.

Subscribe to the BBT Newsletter

Join the Buying Business Travel newsletter for the latest business travel news.

Thank you for signing up!