Rising T&E Spend: The View From GBTA in Denver

Wall Street may be gyrating wildly from economic jitters, but it seems that, for the time being anyway, travel and entertainment spending is climbing, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.

In its article, WSJ cited an analysis of 8.3 million expense reports from about one-fifth of Concur Technologies' clients. The analysis found that during the second quarter of 2011, the average airfare worldwide rose 9.3% from the year-earlier period to $447, and, over the same time frame, the average hotel room rate grew 5.6% to $103 per night.

I found interesting, too, numbers on airline ancillary fees. Concur's data shows that the average entry for baggage fees was about $29 in the second quarter and the average upgrade was about $66. When employees put in for reimbursement for airport clubs, the average fee was $145, and that number reflects a mix of $400 annual memberships and single day passes at $50 each.
   
DenverThese numbers don't surprise me. After all, business and meetings travel are finally on their way up after a long period of decline, but what hasn't changed (and can't be found in the WSJ article) is the very prevalent attitude in our industry about extracting the most value from every dollar. You have to be on the trade show floor of GBTA's convention in Denver, where I am now, to see that. Or you have to be in the audience at one of the many educational sessions focusing on smart, savvy travel and meetings management strategies.  

And from where I stand, watching developments in the industry, new services are being generated daily to meet this need. Two that come to mind right off the bat: new clarity around tracking airline fees with a card-based solution by AirPlus and an efficiency-enhancing tool called Mobile Attendee StarCite introduced this month that delivers agendas, logistics, maps, news alerts and other conference data to attendees via their smartphones (in the process making meeting planners' jobs easier and saving on resources).

As an industry, we may be recovering, but we're definitely not reverting back to the bad, old days of misspending.   

Stay tuned for updates from Denver this week.

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