China’s business travel sector is feeling the pinch like everyone else, and maybe more. Foreign business travel in the country dipped over the summer thanks to visa restrictions, staged a brief recovery, then began declining again in November. As a rule, travel and lodging expenses are the first to feel the accountant’s bite.
Nevertheless, for multinational, globalized businesses, eliminating travel is not an option, but leveraging online resources, travel management companies, and generally paying more attention to the bottom line can keep companies competitive while eliminating waste.
While some travel operators look to consolidate and restructure, firms focusing on helping companies save money without losing key face time with clients or destroying staff morale are poised to benefit from the current situation ("Traveling smarter," page 6).
China has been heavily investing in railway lines, with US$48 billion spent on railway construction in 2008. Following the annoucement of various measures designed to stimulate the economy, the construction budget will double in 2009. High-speed rail links are being built between key destinations, which means business travelers can skip tedious airport check-in lines and take to the rails instead, saving money without compromising on time or productivity ("On track," page 18).
We also include a Guest Word from Vivian Han of Hotel Reservation Service, who explains why booking lodging online is a better option than using the phone ("Systematic approach," page 14). We also interview William Chea of the Sheraton Changsha Hotel about the charms of Hunan ("Second-tier resilience," page 14).
Toys for the boys
On the other hand, cutting back too far can be counterproductive. Although some might consider business jets a luxury, there are real practical arguments for using them from time to time. Unfortunately, the current policy environment is holding back China’s nascent business jet industry ("Room to roam," page 16). Those who can’t buy, or rent, are free to look on longingly. We show you a few of the nicest toys on the market on page 17.
On landing, China’s limousine and luxury car rental firms are ready to help with the bags ("Smooth ride," page 13). Or you can elect to stay in the airport and take a massage in one of China’s new business class lounges ("Down time," page 20).
In other reports, we consider the state of China’s conference sector and conclude now is a good time to drive a good bargain ("Selling MICE," page 11). Or you can save on facility fees and "meet without meeting" by using high technology virtual and video conferencing options ("Alternative spaces," page 12).