Travel Buyers Expect Rising Rates Will Drive Corporate Budgets

Evidence that higher rates and fees are impacting travel budgets is to be found in the average rates/fees that travel buyers expect to pay in 2011, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) said in a new report, the “2011 Industry Pulse: Business Travel Buyers’ Sentiment.” With the exception of domestic car rentals, buyers expect average rates/fares to rise between 3 percent and 5.5 percent in 2011. International travel is a key driver in the increases in total travel spending, the GBTA said.

The business travel industry is faring better and the economic recovery is continuing to progress according to the survey of North American travel buyers by the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the GBTA. The survey also found that expected increases in air and hotel rates are major contributors to growing corporate travel budgets.

“We’re seeing buyers bracing for higher fares by beefing up their budgets while also looking to get more travelers on the road,” said Craig Banikowski, GBTA president and CEO. “Corporate travel buyers will play an increasingly important role as stewards of corporate growth in the face of expected rate and fee increases. By continuing to focus on the elements of a well managed travel program, buyers will be able to get the most value from each dollar invested while making their travelers’ lives easier and more productive.”

Highlights from the Annual Industry Pulse Report included the following:
• More than half (60 percent) of travel buyers surveyed feel the economy is doing better than it was one year ago, and nearly as many (57 percent) feel it will continue to improve over the coming year.

• Although buyers said that more trips (59 percent) and more travelers (37 percent) will continue to increase travel spending, they most often cited increased airline fees (71 percent) and higher rates/fares (69 percent) as contributors to larger travel budgets.

• International travel is gaining momentum. Buyers projected international spending would comprise 34 percent of total travel spend in 2011, up from 31 percent of total spend in 2010 and 28 percent in 2009.

Michael W. McCormick, GBTA’s executive director and COO, GBTA, said, “International travel is a key driver in the increases we’re seeing in total travel spend. There is fertile ground for growth abroad and companies are reflecting this thinking by traveling to new and faster-growing international markets. This investment should pay off as companies unearth new opportunities and participate in the global economy.”

The annual report surveyed 253 North American corporate travel buyers in March 2011 and is free of charge to all GBTA members.


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