BUSINESS travel to developing countries is on the rise as corporates capitalise on growing economies and new business opportunities in the emerging markets, according to global travel and expense management company FCm Travel Solutions.
Global director of account management for FCm Travel Solutions Felicity Burke said multinational client travel volumes to developing markets within Asia, India, Latin America, Africa and Russia had been growing progressively over the past few years.
"This sector of the corporate travel market is far more buoyant now than it has been in previous years," Felicity said. "As part of this, we're seeing more flights to these markets being booked, a greater selection of employees travelling and higher room night volumes for clients travelling to these areas.
"High level observations of our clients indicate that over the past 18 months we have seen steady growth of travel to emerging markets. We're seeing companies from Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Middle East and the US travelling into India, China and Africa. We're also seeing travel volume into Latin America from companies based in the US and UK."
But, Felicity said that while companies were increasingly looking to do business with the booming developing world, higher demand for travel services meant corporates were relying on strategic travel management to get the best deal.
"Companies are asking their travel management companies (TMCs) to monitor how far in advance their staff are booking tickets with the aim of buying fares as early as possible rather than the week or several days before travel," Felicity said. "Our account managers have also been providing analysis around a traveller's return on investment (ROI) to ensure that what companies are spending on travel they're getting the financial return on. Companies are also working with TMCs to secure corporate negotiated discounts for their high capacity air routes to boost savings on long haul air travel.
"Productivity and cost efficiency are key for these companies. The itineraries for travellers flying into remote destinations are complex and corporates need to be working with TMCs that know the markets and which airline services have the best routings. Time is money for companies and having executives waiting in airports costs money."
FCm's Global Hotel Program director Joe McCormack said growth in the number of mid-range hotels in emerging markets provided companies with opportunities to save on accommodation.
"In a number of developing markets such as India and China, there has been a flurry of hotel development," Joe said. "We've seen new hotel brands and chains particularly in the mid-range introduced to the market eg Choice brands Comfort and Quality, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Courtyard by Marriott.
"In places like India and China where traditionally there had been only the five-star internationally-recognised brands on offer, now our corporate clients have much more choice and variety in mid-range properties, which is helping companies contain costs on accommodation where there is high demand."
Joe added that FCm also works closely with local and regional hotel chains in the areas where customers were travelling in addition to the well recognised global hotel brands.
"FCm will identify local hotels that are being used and focus on securing these hotels or hotel chains into our global hotel program to ensure we have the range and type of product to suit our clients' budgets and requirements."