Luxury is back in fashion

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Not long ago, luxury resorts were taking the term “resort” out of their name in a bid to re-attract meetings business — which had dropped severely because companies were afraid of being perceived as frivolous or lavish by having events in such properties.

Now, however, it seems that premium business travel is making a comeback. For one, the NBTA Foundation’s newly released update to its forecast for 2011 and 2012 (which predicts a jump in price per trip of 2% and 6%, respectively) says that “spending continues to recover at a faster rate than overall volume, as premium travel restrictions are removed and the price per business trip rises,” according to a piece I read in BTN. NBTA also said that through the second half of 2009 and the first three quarters of 2010, “better corporate earnings and booming export markets” saw the return of premium business travel outbound from the U.S.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic pond,it seems that its UK customers drove 5% growth in overall air transactions from 2009 to 2010. Yet, bookings in business class grew at a rate of four times more, and there was even higher growth for bookings on trans-Atlantic routes. If that’s not an indication of the loosening of corporate purse strings, I don’t know what is!

What would not be ideal is an indiscriminate or un-strategic use of higher category fares — especially at companies with no policies regulating usage. It’d be even worse if that happened at companies with policies that prohibit or limit business and first class.

I’m using the word a lot these days, but it’s “vigilance” that’s required now that companies are recovering economically and traveling more to meetings. Let’s not give the media and the public another chance to criticize meetings spend!  The industry is rebounding with a renewed sense of responsibility and we need to keep the public focus on the positive attributes of this trend.



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