Domestic and International Airfare Increased in 2008 as Hotel Rates Decreased; Sliding Economic Conditions Definitively Shift Business Travel to a Buyers' Market in 2009



    
    -   Purchase of Economy Class Air Seats Surged in First Quarter 2009 as
        Companies Implement Tighter Travel Policies and Cost Savings
        Strategies -

    -   2010 Hotel Negotiation Promises New Opportunities for Buyers as Rates
        Drop 12 per cent in Q1 2009 -
    

    MARKHAM, ON, April 30 /CNW/ - American Express Business Travel today
released data and analysis of its North American-based domestic and
international air, hotel, and car rental prices paid for the full 2008 year
and first quarter of 2009, as economic conditions heavily impacted a change in
average prices paid for business travel.
    Data from the company's Business Travel Monitor (BTM), the industry's
pricing benchmark, revealed that international and domestic airfare prices
ended 2008 up year-over-year and hotel rates down slightly. Looking at Q1 2009
data, signs point to the effect of a weakening economy, belt tightening by
corporations, and falling consumer demand noticeably impacting travel rates
across the board.

    
    -   Average domestic and international airfares paid increased 7 per cent
        and 6 per cent respectively in 2008 as a whole, but began to slide in
        Q4 2008, continuing into Q1 2009.
    -   Q1 2009 domestic average airfares paid are down 9 per cent compared
        to the first quarter last year.
    -   Q1 2009 international average airfares paid are down 12 per cent
        versus Q1 2008.
    -   Average international and domestic booked hotel rates both showed
        year-over-year decreases of 12 per cent in the first quarter 2009.
    -   International business class air travel fell from an average of 50
        per cent of all bookings in 2008 to 39 per cent in Q1 2009.
    -   Economy class international air travel surged 13 percentage points to
        56 per cent of all travel in Q1 09 versus a steady 43 per cent
        throughout 2008.
    

    "While upward pricing pressures challenged companies to control travel
and related costs throughout 2008, a buyers' market started emerging at the
end of the year, and is in full force today," said Lyell Farquharson, Vice
President and General Manager, Business Travel Canada, American Express.
"Close tracking of travel prices is paramount as companies focus on optimizing
their travel activities and savings as they navigate this unprecedented time
of price cutting and corporate contract renegotiations."

    
    Average International Airfares Paid Increased Six Per cent Year-Over-Year
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    in 2008:
    --------

    2003 - $1,469
    2004 - $1,514
    2005 - $1,614
    2006 - $1,707
    2007 - $1,836
    2008 - $1,955

    Quarterly 2008 and Q1 2009 International Average Airfares Paid:

    Q1 2008 - $1911
    Q2 2008 - $1980
    Q3 2008 - $2010
    Q4 2008 - $1918
    Q1 2009 - $1680

    Average Domestic Airfares Paid Surged in 2008 but Recession Took Hold
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Late in the Year
    ----------------

    In line with international trends, domestic airfares also surged in 2008
as a result of fuel volatility. Base fares began to level off as airlines
chose to charge separately for in-flight meals, choice seating, and other
services to off set intolerance to base fare increases. Airfares then fell
victim to a drop off in demand as economic conditions further deteriorated
toward the end of the year. Similar to international fares, a fall in price
was seen in Q4, but the most dramatic drops were in the first months of this
year.

    Annual Average Domestic Airfares Paid Increased 7 Per cent Year-Over-Year
    in 2008:

    2003 - $243
    2004 - $225
    2005 - $216
    2006 - $231
    2007 - $230
    2008 - $246

    Domestic Average Airfares Paid:

    Q1 2008 - $233
    Q2 2008 - $260
    Q3 2008 - $253
    Q4 2008 - $237
    Q1 2009 - $213

    Average International and Domestic Booked Hotel Rates Decreased Year-
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Over-Year
    ---------

    New hotels expanding globally increased supply and drove international
average booked rates in 2008 down by five per cent. Slowing demand for
domestic hotel bookings and increased availability pushed prices down nearly
three per cent in North America last year. So far this year, average room
rates are down 12 per cent for both categories from the first quarter of 2008.
Of note, the highest price decreases in North American hotels fell within the
budget and deluxe categories as both tiers reduced prices to attract
travellers looking for cost-conscious alternatives.

    International Average Booked Rates Paid Decreased Five Per cent Year-
    Over-Year:
    2003 - $195
    2004 - $197
    2005 - $212
    2006 - $230
    2007 - $266
    2008 - $252
    Q1 '09 - $228

    Average Domestic Booked Rates Paid Decreased Three Per cent Year-Over-
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Year:
    -----

    2003 - $127
    2004 - $132
    2005 - $137
    2006 - $141
    2007 - $157
    2008 - $153

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Average Domestic Booked
     Hotel Rate by Price Tier          Q1'08   Q2'08   Q3'08   Q4'08   Q1'09
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Deluxe                              $231    $246    $240    $253    $216
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Upscale                             $202    $208    $204    $208    $178
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mid-Price                           $192    $205    $203    $209    $166
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Economy                             $175    $182    $189    $184    $149
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Budget                              $169    $185    $186    $174    $138
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Overall                             $203    $215    $212    $218    $180
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "The economic environment is fueling proactive off-season communication
between travel buyers and suppliers as they work together to secure the best
rates and ensure credit for volume. Those willing to be pragmatic and
proactive on both sides of the table can reap the rewards. For the first time,
we are seeing buyers renegotiate greater reduced rates for a longer period of
time, in some cases two years. Hoteliers are taking advantage of these rates
by reaching out to potential new clients to compete for business," said Mr.
Farquharson.

    Car Rental Rates Post Modest Increase in 2008 but Ease in Early 2009
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    

    In 2008, the overall cost of car rental increased slightly as demand
increased and buyers saw the impact of fuel costs over the course of the year.
Taxes and local fees on car rental transactions also continued their steady
increase. However, slightly weaker demand in the first quarter of the year has
stabilized costs so far this year. There was also increased interest in
intermediate and hybrid cars versus larger cars for overall cost control and
fuel savings. This reflects adherence to new policies surrounding ground
transportation and eco policies. Advisory Services is predicting the overall
daily cost of car rental will remain flat for 2009.

    
    Average daily cost of car rental:
    2003 - $65
    2004 - $65
    2005 - $66
    2006 - $69
    2007 - $72
    2008 - $74
    Q1 '09 - $73
    

    About the American Express Business Travel Monitor, North America

    The American Express Business Travel Monitor is a key deliverable of
American Express Business Travel Global Advisory Services' Research practice.
It benchmarks the average prices for air, hotel, and car rental service by
major cities and classes of service through aggregate analysis of American
Express' extensive global database of purchase information.
    The BTM includes both average published and purchased air fares captured
across hundreds of domestic and international routes, including unrestricted
first class, business, economy, and discounted, restricted economy air fares.
The methodology for the average air fare paid is the one-way price paid by all
travellers booked through American Express Business Travel, including taxes
and fees, for all routes.
    Average booked hotel rates, both international and domestic, represent
the total spending of all American Express Business Travel clients, excluding
taxes, divided by the total number of room nights confirmed. The full BTM
includes hotel averages by major city neighborhoods and category of hotel by
price range. The average daily cost for car rentals is drawn from American
Express(R) Corporate Card data and includes all charges incurred, including
mileage, gas, tax and insurance, divided by the average length of rental. Data
for the distribution of rental class categories is drawn from all rentals
booked by the entire American Express Business Travel customer base.
    All monetary figures are published in US dollars.

    About American Express Business Travel

    American Express Business Travel (www.americanexpress.ca/businesstravel),
a division of American Express Company, is committed to helping its clients
maximize the greatest return on their travel investment through program
optimization support, world-class customer service, and greater spending
control. With clients ranging from small businesses to multinational
corporations, American Express Business Travel provides a combination of
industry-leading technology, travel management consulting, strategic sourcing
and supplier negotiation support, alongside global customer service available
online and offline.
    American Express operates one of the world's largest travel agency
networks with locations in over 140 countries worldwide. The Company processed
$25.4 billion in global travel sales in 2008.
    American Express Company (www.americanexpress.ca) is a leading global
payments, network and travel company founded in 1850.





For further information:

For further information: or for a more fulsome report, please contact:
Jolene Price, American Express Canada, (905) 474-8746, jolene.price@aexp.com

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