October 7 2009 by Chris McGinnis
I started wondering if things were on the mend in business travel when we completed our August survey of Best Western Diamond 100 members. As you may recall, it revealed that unmanaged business travelers expect to travel as much (68 percent) or more (11 percent) this autumn compared to the same time last year.
That sounded like pretty good news to me, and in my blog headline, I pondered whether unmanaged travelers (those who work for themselves or for small companies and call their own shots when it comes to travel) were going to be the ones to "lead the charge out of economic doldrums."
Now there's further evidence that travel demand might be on the rebound: In its Global Business Travel Forecast released last week, American Express said the decline in business travel demand may be bottoming out due in part to pent-up demand for face-to-face meetings.
Shortly after that, airlines began adding on $10 surcharges for flights on peak travel days around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. This is surely a sign that airlines see demand picking up.
What does all this mean to you? While increasing demand for travel is good news for the travel industry, it usually translates into higher prices, so you can expect business travel expenses to increase slightly in 2010.
American Express predicts the cost of an average business trip will increase 1.2 percent next year. It also warned that businesses should expect to add an additional 15 percent to total trip costs for new "unbundled and ancillary fees" such as airline baggage fees, car rental surcharges or hotel charges for Internet access.