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Business Travelers Migrate Toward Low-Frills As Costs Continue Ascent

Compiled By Deborah Austin The upcoming year may prove a buyer's market for some corporate travel managers, yet business travel management costs will climb 5%, predicts the National Business Travel Association (NBTA), Alexandria, Va., in its 2003 Business Travel Cost Forecast. Among findings noted in the study:

  • Recent hotel occupancy crashes signal potential for the best corporate deals in years, says NBTA. The median negotiated hotel rate has dropped to $99 -- the first double-digit figure since 1996. Upper-scale rates have fallen more steeply than midscale. In 2003, NBTA forecasts, corporate hotel rates will increase 2%.
  • Thirty-eight percent of respondents to an NBTA survey said major airlines' new restrictions on non-refundable tickets could prompt consideration of low-cost carriers -- which vastly outperformed major airlines this year. Average business airfare increased 3% in 2002 but will climb 7% to $1,179 in 2003, the association predicts.
  • In 2002 care-rental demand rebounded from its late-2001 plunge. Smaller rental companies are gaining market share as business travelers pare budgets. Car rental rates will increase 2% in 2003.
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