Increased business travel has been forecast for 2011, a survey of members of the influential Association of Corporate Travel Executives reveals.

The vast majority of respondents – 64% from Europe and 70% from the US – anticipate a greater travel spend next year.
Most attributed this to increased travel frequency and not just higher costs.

The poll showed that 66% of European ACTE members and 60% of those in the US are expecting their company’s employees to travel more in 2011 than in the two previous years of the recession.

More than half the European member companies questioned expected their travel spend to rise by between 5% and 15%, compared with 43% of those in the US, where 22% of respondents predicted an increase in travel spend of between 1% and 5%, and 5.4% expected a spend increase of 20% or more.

On the issue of controlling costs, the vast majority of US respondents (73%) will be encouraging, or even mandating the use of preferred vendors, with 62% encouraging or mandating booking channels; just over half encouraging or mandating the use of travel alternatives “when travel can be replaced”; and 57% encouraging or mandating hotel booking through preferred channels.

The results from European respondents were broadly similar. But 68% said they will encourage or mandate bookings at least 14 days in advance, compared with just 54% of US member respondents.

Just 11% of European ACTE member companies plan to control costs by “managing a previously unmanaged aspect of travel, such as corporate housing or parking”, compared with 16% of those from the US, yet 38% foresee a consolidation of meeting spend – which is 11% more than those in the US.

Just 5.4% of US ACTE respondents and 6.4% of those from Europe will be encouraging shorter trip stays, the 2011 Travel Spend survey concluded.

ACTE president Chris Crowley said: “Business travel has always been held up as a key performance indicator of any economy and the findings from the ACTE survey of members shows clearly that economic performance may well move ahead, across the globe, next year.

“We intend to monitor our members, and their confidence, booking trends and general travel expenditure closely over the coming months as we watch the recovery of the world economy as business people increase their travelling and international trade picks up.”