Sectors' vectors. IHG reported a small drop in its 2019 systemwide revenue per available room. In addition to geopolitical and trade tensions around the globe, it cited pockets of weaker U.S. corporate demand. Revenue in 2019 from the automative and energy/utilities sectors, for example, dropped 7 percent from a year earlier while tech industry revenue fell 1 percent. Manufacturing clients spent about the same at IHG properties as they did in 2018. Professional services revenue, though, jumped 9 percent year over. CFO Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson said the figures reflected trends in U.S. economic activity. Overall, IHG said, U.S. supply growth last year outpaced demand in the upper midscale segment. Should they continue, such trends could offer corporate buyers negotiating leverage later this year as they negotiate for 2021 rates.
British Airways raised or introduced nonrefundable surcharges on corporate credit card transactions in several European markets. Fees in the United Kingdom, for example, now are 1.2 percent for American Express card payments, 1.3 percent for Mastercard payments, 1.35 percent for Visa ,1.5 percent for Diners and 1.75 percent for UATP. Fees on card payments in Finland, Germany and the Netherlands similarly have variable changes based on the card network. The same goes for Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands, which are new markets for BA card surcharges. In all cases, the max charge is £20 or 25 euros. According to the airline, its credit card surcharges no longer reflected "the high merchant costs of accepting corporate credit card payments." It previously capped such fees at 1 percent.
Avis Budget Group reported "strong penetration" of new business travel-friendly options in the December quarter. Introduced last June, a bill-splitting feature lets business customers pay for extended rentals, ancillary items and upgraded vehicles using a personal rather than company-paid credit card. This allows travelers to avoid running afoul of company policy. Avis Budget also has a new fee structure for tolls that adds daily flat rates to bills rather than per-toll fees. A few states are participating, with more expected during the year. "Customers like it, especially if you think about commercial customers who have an all-in-one bill now that they can expense," said Avis Budget Group interim president and CEO Joseph Ferraro. The company reported a 4 percent increase in fourth quarter commercial volume. "Pricing," Ferraro told Wall Street analysts, "remains competitive."
More than four in 10 companies spending under $30 million a year on travel added more countries to their travel programs in the past two years. About half of 152 respondents to a November poll expected further expansion by 2022. Roughly half wanted to manage hotel and airline relationships globally by 2022, while three in 10 said they already did. The rest managed regionally, locally or not at all. One-quarter said they had a global online booking strategy; twice that many wanted one by 2022. Three in 10 said the reason for multinational expansion was a global transformation project and 23 percent said their organizations added a person responsible for travel. Respondents also cited technology that simplifies program management and suppliers better equipped to serve such programs. GlobalStar Travel Management and the Nina & Pinta consultancy conducted the survey.
Emburse introduced an expense reimbursement system for non-employee travelers. It is available to clients of Emburse's Abacus, Certify, Chrome River and Nexonia expense management solutions. Called Abacus Reach, the system lets an organization's job candidates, external consultants and vendors use a mobile app to submit receipt images for flights, hotel bookings and other travel expenses. Those get routed immediately for approval to complete reimbursement by the next day. The system overlays expense policies and connects to HR applicant tracking solutions. There's been a movement over the past few years to deliver better-manage non-employee travel. That's included virtual payment options, streamlined expense reimbursement and, in some cases, travel booking services delivered via mobile apps.
Compiled by the editors of TheCompanyDime.com.