Fuel Costs Will Alter Road Warriors Behavior

You’ve seen the signs – $3, $3.50, $4… and counting! Gas prices, no matter where you look, have become downright expensive with little sign of relief. But for business travel, the fluctuating cost of a gallon of fuel goes mostly unnoticed, or at the very least, not discussed. It’s just another line item on a larger report.

As the calendar continues to turn over, the desire to ditch the office and hit the road more frequently increases. Road warriors look to literally step outside their daily routine and move their client conversations to the golf course or a baseball game. While nurturing relationships face-to-face is often best, the upcoming summer months might see business travelers reconsidering such trips, or at the very least, being more strategic about them.

According to a new survey from the U.S. Travel Association, nearly 27 percent of business travelers will be more cognizant of the money they spend not just on gas, but also on things like entertainment and shopping while traveling on business. These changes in spending likely won’t be drastic; however, we wanted to help you spot them.

Here are few key trends to keep an eye on:

  • About one-fifth of business travelers planning to drive this summer said they’d take fewer trips due to the high fuel costs. This includes changing both the distance and number of destinations they might typically schedule.
  • Twenty-seven percent of the same group said they would spend less money at restaurants, while also spending less at hotels (23 percent) and entertainment (17 percent) during their travels.
  • Twenty-five percent of travelers planning to fly said an increase in airfare due to high oil prices would affect their summer business travel plans.

The survey also found the tipping point is between $0.26 and $1.25 in gas price increases for all surveyed travelers (both leisure and business) planning to travel by car this summer. This figure serves as a barometer for when exactly travelers might alter their plans.

So what do all these trends mean for business travel? Be prepared to allocate more of your travel budget to fuel. Given the projections on fuel prices for the coming months, the increase could be just a summer blip. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) seems to think so according to a recent report which found that U.S. travel is expected to ramp up and in fact meet pre-recession levels by mid-year. Perhaps the writing is on the wall and we’re beginning to see the signs of something more promising – and permanent – to come.

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