Trends in the travel and fleet sector largely follow the health and sentiment of US businesses that procure these services. However, travel and fleet services rely heavily on transportation inputs, which are notoriously volatile, posing a moderate level of risk to buyers of these services. Still, substantial profit margins generated by travel and fleet suppliers give buyers an opportunity for effective negotiation.
- Price trends for travel services have been mildly favorable to buyers during the past three years, with travel prices rising slower than the rate of inflation, on average
- A return to growth in corporate profit has caused demand for travel and fleet services to recover slightly, as businesses have more capital to spend on work-related travel
- Increased automation, especially for Corporate Travel Services and Fleet Management Services, has pressured vendor wage costs downward, keeping price growth slow
- However, prices are forecast to rise moderately in the coming years as transportation service costs increase alongside fuel prices
Key Takeaway: Buyers can benefit from entering into service contracts soon to lock in current rates while they are low.
Supply Chain Risks
- Supply chain risk is moderate for travel and fleet service providers
- The Domestic Air Travel market is particularly risky, with limited airport and capacity, disrupted or delayed flight schedules, and potential airline mergers or bankruptcies all posing a threat to buyers
- Vehicle and aircraft manufacturers and maintenance providers can also pose a threat to fleet providers, particularly as domestic steel and aluminum prices rise as a result of new tariffs
- Growing popularity of solutions like Travel Risk Management Services and Fleet Management Services that help buyers increase efficiency will helped businesses ease their travel risks
Key Takeaway: Buyers should expect some shifts in the prices and supply of sector services as upstream inputs fluctuate in the coming years. Buyers can aim to reduce some of their supply chain risks by purchasing Group Travel insurance, or by sourcing other discretionary systems and services that specifically seek to reduce the risks associated with these markets.
- The majority of travel and fleet service suppliers earn high profit margins
- During the past three years, profit margins have been increasing as demand for services rises and supplier wage costs fall
- High and rising profit margins give providers the flexibility to negotiate on prices, presenting an opportunity for buyers to gain negotiation leverage
Key Takeaway: Buyers may be able to negotiate service prices downward, especially with smaller, more competitive vendors. However, buyers are encouraged to thoroughly research the financial health of a potential supplier before procuring services from them in order to avoid unnecessary supply chain risks or service disruptions.
Although pricing trends have favored buyers during the past three years, shifts in key inputs are expected to pressure travel and fleet prices upward at a faster rate in the next three years. Moderate supply chain risk will persist, with input prices continuing to remain susceptible to volatility. However, the high average profitability of market providers will ensure that fluctuations in the prices of inputs will not necessarily cause supply shortages or vendor bankruptcies. As such, buyers can benefit from securing long-term travel and fleet service contracts sooner rather than later, locking in stable vendors and low prices now.