New Travel Bookings in January Equaled or Exceeded Q4 2008

Survey results revealed today by Travel Leaders offer insights into early 2009 travel patterns for both leisure and corporate travel and indicate that the majority of January bookings equaled or exceeded the monthly average from the last quarter of 2008. Among the findings are statistics demonstrating that unprecedented deals and incentives are succeeding in spurring additional leisure travel, while top corporate travel strategies are enabling companies to better persevere through rough economic waters. This survey was conducted from February 26 – March 17, 2009, and includes over 200 responses from Travel Leaders owners, managers and frontline travel experts throughout the United States.

“Clearly, far from the wheels of the travel sector completely falling off, the first month of 2009 proved stronger than most anticipated as 53.6% of our Travel Leaders experts reported that their bookings were higher than or equal to the end of 2008 – positive proof that a significantly large number of corporate and leisure travelers are still on the go,” stated Roger E. Block, CTC, president of Travel Leaders Associates. “Travel Leaders experts are working to stretch every discretionary dollar for our clients, counseling them on creative ways to find value whether for business or pleasure.”

When asked to compare travel bookings for the month of January 2009 to the average monthly number of booking in the fourth quarter of 2008, the results from 235 Travel Leaders respondents indicated that:
Booking are higher     35.7%
Bookings are even     17.9%
Booking are down    46.4%

Block noted that leisure travel bookings were somewhat stronger than those for business travel overall.

Also revealed in Travel Leaders’ 2009 Spring Survey results was that the vast majority (77.8%) of Travel Leaders’ predominantly leisure-oriented travel experts surveyed stated that the current deals and incentives being offered have directly translated to increased bookings and/or inquiries. A solid majority said those deals have resulted in more bookings. Only 7.4% of the leisure experts said that they had not experienced any increase in demand from the deals and incentives.

Travel Leaders’ predominantly corporate-oriented experts reported that their business clients are employing greater adherence to strategies designed to contain overall costs. Among the top strategies and tactics being used to rein in spending and maintain budgets:
· Advanced purchase (air travel)
· Use of non-refundable airline tickets
· Enforcing negotiated programs companies may have with specific travel suppliers
· Driving vs. flying when possible
· Economizing on standards (3- or 4-star rather than 5-star hotel, etc.)

Additionally, the corporate-oriented Travel Leaders experts cited the top reasons why their clients continue to travel. Among them were:
· Necessary face-to-face contact
· Sales & coverage of sales territory
· Conferences
· Technical support
· Meetings & live presentations

Travel Leaders is transforming travel with a new name that boldly embodies our commitment to our vacation and business travel clients via our progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Having already assisted millions of travelers, our strong roots – through our beginnings as Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates (which itself began as Ask Mr. Foster, North America’s first travel agency network established in 1888), TraveLeaders and Tzell Travel Group – have now joined together to form one of the industry’s fastest-growing and robust networks of travel experts.

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