Business travelers are traveling less but spending more

The Padre Hotel in Bakersfield, Calif., is among the hotels benefiting from the rise in business travel spending, especially in the oil and agriculture industries.
Amy Langfield | CNBC
The Padre Hotel in Bakersfield, Calif., is among the hotels benefiting from the rise in business travel spending, especially in the oil and agriculture industries.

Business travelers are digging deeper into their wallets, spending more per trip—especially on hotels, airfare and more expensive food and drinks—according to a report released Tuesday by the Global Business Travel Association.

During the second quarter of this year, U.S.-originated business travel added up to $72.8 billion, a 7.1 percent year-over-year increase. Although, notably, there was a 0.1 percent drop in the actual number of trips.

"For airlines, hotels, and car rentals, it's all supply and demand," said Michael McCormick, the executive director and chief operating officer at the GBTA. "But at what point will they hit some price point that will hit demand?"

They haven't hit it yet, it seems.

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The GBTA forecasts U.S.-generated business travel spending will increase 6.8 percent, to $292.3 billion, for all of 2014. That forecast is unchanged from the forecast in July, which was also released by the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association and sponsored by Visa.

Overall, travel costs are expected to increase 2.9 percent this year, and 3.5 percent more in 2015, according to the GBTA.

Those higher costs are showing up in expense reports, according to expense management software maker Concur.

"Our expense data shows May and June this year were two of the biggest months for business dining on record," Robson Grieve, Concur's executive vice president of worldwide marketing told CNBC in an email.

In May those 7.48 million transactions reached $694 million, followed by 7.41 million transactions totaling $675 million in June. July saw a seasonal summer-holiday dip, but still hit 6.19 million transactions worth $551 million, according to the Concur data.

One of the hotels enjoying the bump is The Padre, a boutique hotel in Bakersfield, California, that accommodates oil and agriculture business travelers. Hotel occupancy was up 10 percent in the first of 2014, compared with the same period a year earlier, accordng to Jennifer Johnson, the hotel manager. The average daily rate was also up 7.5 percent over that same period, she said.

"People are traveling more for business, and staying longer," Johnson said.

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The report found that travel volume is expected to rise only 2.3 percent for the year, but spending will grow by 7 percent year-over-year due to the higher prices for hotel rooms, airfare and food.

International outbound business travel is also expected to rise in volume by 5.6 percent for the year 2014, followed by a 6.5 percent increase in 2015 despite slowing growth in Europe, China and Latin America, according to the report.

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