After a strong surge over the last two years, business travel in the U.S. is expected to grow more slowly through the end of the year, largely because of economic uncertainty in Europe.
The slowdown in travel spending was forecast last week in a report by the Global Business Travel Assn., a trade group for travel managers. The group also cited continuing worries about the U.S. economy, low job growth, falling consumer confidence and slowing corporate profits.
The group predicted spending on business travel this year will jump 2.2% over last year, reaching $256.5 billion, compared with a previous forecast that the spending would grow 3.6% in 2012.
“In a challenging economy, companies may look to cut their travel spending,” said Michael W. McCormick, executive director of the association. “But GBTA research shows that that is the exact opposite of what they should be doing.”
He added that cutting travel spending would hurt a company’s bottom line and “make a bad economic situation significantly worse due to business travel’s impact on the overall economy.”
Business travel spending surged back after the economic downturn, jumping 5.1% in 2010 and 7.2% in 2011, according to the association.
The group predicts a rebound in travel spending next year, up 4.7% to $268.5 billion, but that was with the assumption that Europe’s economic woes do not worsen.
More adults to work during summer vacation
With more Americans worried about the direction of the economy, a new survey found that 52% of employed adults planned to put in some work during their summer vacation this year.
That is up from 46% of employed Americans who said in a similar survey last year that they worked through their vacation.
The latest survey was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of TeamViewer, a producer of remote control and online meetings software. It also found 30% of Americans surveyed said they planned to read work-related emails and 23% planned to take work-related phone calls while on vacation.
The survey further found that employed men were more likely to say they would work during summer vacation than women (56% for men compared with 47% for women). Also, 39% of workers in the West said they would read work-related emails on vacation, compared with 25% of those living in the South.
Bill aims to help families sit together on flights
A New York lawmaker has introduced legislation to make it easier for family members to sit together on a plane.
But the $1-trillion airline industry said no such law is needed.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced legislation last week that would direct airlines to “establish a policy to ensure, to the extent practicable, that a family that purchases tickets for a flight with that air carrier is seated together during that flight.”
A spokesman for Nadler said the government can’t force airlines to waive fees for premium seats so that families can sit together at no extra cost. But he said it can require that airlines draft a policy on the subject and make it public so passengers could see which airlines were family-friendly.
“We are not forcing anyone to do our biding,” said Ilan Kayatsky, a spokesman for the congressman.
But Airlines for America, a trade group for the nation’s airline industry, said family members can sit together without paying higher fees by simply booking tickets early.
“Airline seats, much like tickets to sporting events or concerts, are at their greatest availability when purchased early, which is when most families book travel,” the group said.
The trade group said families also have many airlines to choose from.
“As with all other products and industries, it is the market that can — and should — determine how air travel is priced, not the government.”