Business travel is increasing, but not necessarily the travel budget

Travelers also spend more on each of their trips. The average amount spent in 2000 was $ 422, and it rose to $ 564 in 2011. Two-thirds of this increase was due to inflation and one-third was the result of actual increases in spending. But every dollar invested in business travel has historically delivered $ 20 in additional profits for American businesses.

“We are seeing road warriors commuting less but getting the most out of it, making more stops and spending more on the road,” said McCormick. “The explosion in productivity is a huge factor, and it’s driven by better travel management, better technology and more time on the road. “

At the same time, travelers are faced with a world of rising prices. Soaring oil prices this year are once again forcing airlines to raise fares, analysts say. Recent industry mergers have also reduced competition in some markets and allowed airlines to charge more.

The financial outlook for the airline industry remains fragile. High oil prices are the biggest threat to the profitability of the sector. They are expected to average $ 115 a barrel this year, the International Air Transport Association said, and a further surge in prices could easily wipe out the industry’s fragile gains.

With slow economic growth and very low profit margins for airlines, “it won’t take a lot of shock to push the industry into the red for 2012,” Tony Tyler, CEO and CEO of the Association of international air transport, said in a speech last month.

In 2011, average domestic fares increased 10% to $ 254, according to the American Express Business Travel Monitor. And the prices keep going up. Domestic fares averaged $ 261 in February, the last month for which this data is available, up from $ 250 in the same month last year, according to American Express. Hotel rooms are also on the rise: National nightly rates rose on average 3% to $ 155 in February from a year ago.

International tariffs are also skyrocketing. Corporate fares for international flights from the United States averaged $ 2,240 in the first quarter of this year, down from a recessional low of $ 1,651 in the first quarter of 2009 and nearly double the rate of $ 1,190 for the same period in 2007, according to Travel GPA, which collects travel booking data from 45,000 companies around the world and produces dashboards on how companies are maximizing their travel spending.