Business travelers are spending big again

Business travel spending is up 6.7% in 2014

The AIG effect may be dead.

During the nation’s financial collapse, insurance giant AIG held a weeklong retreat at a swanky Dana Point resort, less than a week after getting an $85-billion federal bailout. The scandal sparked such outrage that most business travelers steered clear of ritzy hotels and first-class airline seats, opting for cheaper options.

But big spending on business travel seems back in vogue.

During 2014, business travelers in the U.S. spent $292 billion, a 6.7% increase over 2013, according to a study by the Global Business Travel Assn., which projects business travel spending to jump an additional 6.2% to $310 billion in 2015.

But the same study said that the total number of business trips taken increased only 1.4% in 2014 and is expected to rise 1.7% this year.

That means that some of that spending growth is going toward more expensive trips, said Joseph Bates, vice president of research for the trade group for business travel managers.

“I do think we are starting to see companies relax their travel policies as corporate profits have been healthy for a while,” he said.

But Bates said business travelers are also scheduling more meetings per trip to be more efficient.

Still, don’t expect to see business travelers splurging the way they did before the recession.

“Companies are still concerned about perception,” Bates said.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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