Change Is in the Air

Smart Measures Help Planners Offset Concerns About Ailing Airlines

Will some major carriers’ new, simplified fare structures benefit your organization?
Yes: 56%
No: 10%
Not sure: 34%

United Airlines has filed for bankruptcy, US Airways is in trouble, Continental Airlines needs to slash its budget; in fact, most major carriers are hurting. Yet, despite all the bad news in the airline industry, the 303 planners who responded to M&C’s recent online poll are only mildly concerned that airline failures might complicate attendees’ abilities to get to meetings.
chart    About a third (34 percent) are not especially worried that airline bankruptcies will hinder attendees’ travel plans. Nonetheless, many planners are protecting their organizations by avoiding booking financially troubled carriers (44 percent); opting to meet in hub cities served by a variety of carriers (29 percent); steering bookings toward more solvent, low-fare carriers (26 percent) and investigating ticket-holders’ options in the event a carrier shuts down (22 percent).
    A quarter of those polled (25 percent) expect meeting attendees will purchase more unrestricted tickets. chartEighteen percent said their own travel has been affected by recent airline troubles, and a third currently are holding tickets for a flight on a troubled airline.
    What’s next on the horizon? A year from now, meeting planners predict, flyers will have fewer carriers from which to choose (73 percent), low-fare airlines will continue to grow (60 percent), the new simplified fare structures will be offered by all major carriers (57 percent) and travelers will be paying higher fares (32 percent).

Art Pfenning is director of M&C Research;