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Business Travel Rates To Rise Above Budgets

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Companies that send their employees off to do business in far-flung places are bracing for rising prices this year that will stretch already tight travel budgets, a new report says.

The US-based Global Business Travel Association suggests international travel will see the highest price jumps, with hotels and airfares (both economy and business class) set to become around 8 percent more expensive.

The average international economy ticket will cost American travelers USD$1,217, says the association, with business seats going for USD$5,152, and spending on world travel taking up approximately 30 percent of total business travel budgets.

Domestic US rates will rise less steeply: 4.6 percent for air and 3.7 percent for lodging.

In comparison, buyers expect a mere 2.9 percent increase in their budgets.

The GBTA says hotels, airlines and meeting venues will capitalize on growing demand to wield more power in negotiations with corporations.

"Travel buyers are being pushed to balance higher costs, the need to get travelers on the road, and corporate budget constraints," says Joseph Bates, vice president of research for GBTA.

"Strategic travel management programs will play a key role for companies dealing with a tougher negotiating environment and focused on getting the most out of their travel spending."

The GBTA survey canvassed 297 travel buyers in the US in October 2012.

(Reuters)