Travel agents are expecting businesses to maintain or slightly exceed their pace of travel this year compared with 2012, but companies still will be looking for ways to cut costs.
According to Travel Leaders Group and its annual Travel Trends Survey, nearly 80 percent of its business-focused agents forecast that clients will be traveling as much or more than last year. Fewer than 10 percent predicted there would be less travel.
Even with looming tax increases and government spending cuts, more than 77 percent of agents surveyed said they were optimistic about their business, while another 18 percent were neutral about prospects in the coming year.
One thing that hasn't changed year-to-year is clients' emphasis on controlling cost, according to the survey of 335 affiliated agent members and travel experts. More than 42 percent of respondents said saving on travel was the most important client concern, while 13 percent listed flexible booking options for air, cars and hotels as their chief concern.
"Finding ways to trim costs and save on business travel are still paramount," Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben said in a statement.
The survey also showed that travel-related expenses are growing. The most frequent charge is airline fees for changing flights, followed by airline baggage fees, airline upgrades, hotel fees for parking, lodging fees for Internet use, car rental fees for one-way drop-offs, hotel resort fees, airline fees for Internet, car rental fees for gas and airline fees for food.
"Ancillary fees are something businesses need to pay attention to ... so there are no huge surprises at the end of the year," said Kathy Gerhardt, spokeswoman for Travel Leaders Group.
Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., Travel Leaders Group employs more than 1,000 members nationwide. The group manages leisure, business and franchise travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands, with annual sales of $18 billion.
Business travel for 2013 vs. 2012
Bookings remain the same • 40.8 percent
Bookings to increase • 38.7 percent
Bookings to decline • 9.8 percent
Source: Travel Leaders Group