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2016 AirPlus International Business Travel Study

Beijing-China, 2016

2016 AirPlus International Business Travel Management Study: The latest "2016 AirPlus International Business Travel Management Study" indicates that the Chinese business travel industry will maintain steady growth this year, with many signs pointing to a more rapid development.

World-leading business travel payment solution provider AirPlus International recently released the "2016 AirPlus International Business Travel Management Study", which indicates that 2016 will be a challenging year for the business travel industry. The difference between this year and previous years' study is that this year, the study interviewed 847 business travel managers globally and for the first time, included surveys on 1,158 business travellers, offering more comprehensive data to support the conclusion.

The study shows that the global economic downturn has caused an important trend to emerge: more and more business travel managers (up to 19%) predict that the business travel market will experience a slowdown in growth. While the percentage of business travel managers with such a view is relatively low, this is still by far the largest number of people surveyed to forecast a slowdown in the next 12 months in the business travel market since the 2009 financial crisis.

However, the outlook is not as bleak as it seems. Results show that more business travel managers (31%) forecast that the number of business trips will increase in 2016, and that a significantly higher number of business travel managers (41%) expect their company to increase business travel spending this year than those who think that their company's business travel spending will be reduced (18%). Compared to business travel managers, business travellers have an even more optimistic outlook: those who forecast an increase in business travel far exceed those who expect a reduction. However, fewer people expected business travel spending to increase.

In contrast with the global business travel industry's challenging times ahead, the Chinese business travel industry is expected to maintain steady growth this year, and this has become one of the highlights of the global market.

Similarly, Global Business Travel Association (QGTA) released its research report "GBTA Business Travel Industry Outlook – China 2016 H1", which indicated that "China has replaced the US as the world's largest business travel market", supporting "2016 AirPlus International Travel Management Study" projection that the Chinese business travel market will experience even higher growth for the year ahead.

The report shows that both business travellers and business travel managers maintain a positive outlook towards the Chinese business travel market, with more than 53% of the Chinese business travellers believing that China's economy has a positive effect on the booming Chinese business travel industry. This figure far exceeds the global average of 36%. Additionally, almost half (43%) of the business travellers indicates that their company's business travel spending is expected to increase in the next year. In contrast, the Chinese business travel managers are more cautious. While they still maintain a positive outlook towards the overall development of the business travel industry, only 33% believe that companies will increase the number of business trips and similarly, 33% think that business travel spending will increase.

Despite China's economic slowdown, many areas are still showing signs of rapid development of the Chinese business travel industry. In 2016 alone, China is expected to invest US$80 billion in the aviation infrastructure, including the construction of 30 new airports and 60 airport extensions. However, we will not be expecting soaring growth in the Chinese travel industry like in the past years. Rather, growth will be more in line with the "gongjice" (supply-side reform): some companies will increase their demand for business travel while some will reduce their spending. Such diversity in development will offer endless possibilities for the Chinese business travel's development and at the same time, limitless opportunities for the business travel payment solution providers.

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