by Michael J. Shapiro | April 13, 2011
Business travel volume and spending is recovering at a stronger-than-expected rate, according to a report released yesterday by the Global Business Travel Association. The Business Travel Quarterly Outlook for Q1 2011 revealed a $4.2 billion year-over-year increase in business travel spending for the fourth quarter of 2010, driven by improving economic conditions and corporate confidence. The increase exceeded GBTA's expectations, leading to the highest Business Travel Index metric (112) since the third quarter of 2008. Rising prices are one factor: Airfare, lodging, meals and ground transportation hikes resulted in a 2.5 percent increase in travel costs for 2010, according to the report. The association sees that trend continuing, at a rate of 2 to 4 percent for 2011. Those price hikes, combined with increased corporate demand, could account for a 6.9 percent rise in travel spending for 2011, the report concluded. The report calls for similar growth for group travel (7 percent), which increased by 6 percent in 2010. International travel spend, driven by emerging-market growth, has bounced back at a particularly strong clip: Companies spent 17.3 percent more on international trips in 2010 than in the preceding year.