New year, new optimism for business travel?

File this in the cautious optimism tray. A survey of businsses-focussed travel agents put together by US travel agency network Travel Leaders found that 28.6% expect busines travel booking to increase in 2010, while 38.3% think bookings will remain on a par with 2009. Only 11.9% expect a further decline.

businesstravel.gifThe survey found that around a third of the travel agents said 11% or more of their bookings are in business of first class, while just over half said between 1% and 10% were booking premium seats.

Find out more on the survey here.

On a similar topic, the UK’s Business Travel & Meetings Show recently surveyed 1,400 business travel managers. The results indicate some more positive sentiment – around a quarter expect budgets to rise in 2010 and a third plan to book more trips, and another almost half expect budgets to be stable. But this is a classic glass full or empty stuff, as a further quarter expect to have less money to spend in 2010. Perhaps most interestingly, a majority say they are being forced to adopt even stricter travel policies for the year. Crucially for network carriers around 44% said they would be booking lower class airline tickets.

Find our more on this survey here.

So there are some encouraging signs on business travel, and airline traffic figures are also more positive – IATA figures for December showed a 4.5% increase in passenger traffic and 24% increase in cargo demand compared to admittedly very depressed December 2008 figures. But the crucial question remains, how much are people actually paying or willing to pay? For airlines, yields remain the key.

For more on this, check out analyst Chris Tarry’s view on where the airline sector is in its recovery in his latest market outlook column.

Photo source: Rex Features

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