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Travelers are starting to move back to the front of the plane
American Express Business Travel, a global leader in business travel management, released third quarter data and analysis from its Business Travel Monitor (BTM) North America. Modest airfare increases were seen and travelers appear to be moving back to the front of the plane, showing positive signs companies may likely be feeling more optimistic about the economy.

The BTM is published by eXpert insights, American Express Business Travel’s research practice of Global Advisory Services. The BTM is a monthly pricing index tracking actual airfares paid on the most popular business travel routes for domestic and international travel compared to published prices. It also tracks paid hotel and car rates in key business travel markets.

International and domestic airfares paid from North America increased quarter-over-quarter, where as year-over-year airfares continue to be down. From a hotel perspective, rates varied across hotel categories quarter-over-quarter, but overall average rates decreased both internationally and domestically. In looking at individual hotel tiers, rate increases were evident in budget, economy and mid-tier categories.

• Average international airfares paid increased two percent quarter-over-quarter

• Average domestic airfares paid increased two percent quarter-over-quarter

• Average international booked hotel rates decreased 10 percent year-over-year

• Average domestic booked hotel rates decreased two percent year-over-year, but increased seven percent in budget-tier hotels quarter-over-quarter

• Car rental rates increased five percent in Q3 2009 and remained flat year-over-year

“While economists watch key market indicators such as inventory levels and unemployment, we may be seeing a glimmer of economic hope as the Business Travel Monitor data shows modest fare increases and travelers moving to the front of the plane again,” said Christa Degnan Manning, director, eXpert insights, Global Advisory Services, American Express Business Travel. “This is an encouraging sign for the business travel industry because it indicates increasing demand as well as willingness to pay for premium products, which help with supplier profitability and their ability to provide consumer discounts.”

Continued Manning, “Pent-up trip demand coupled with supply base changes have caused rates to slightly increase in the third quarter. There has also been a slight increase in the usage of business class tickets for international travel, up one percent from last quarter, to 37%. However, this is still down year-over-year from 49% of all international business traveler tickets purchased.”

 

Image text: Business class at Singapore Airlines, Airbus 330.