In a hopeful sign about the sluggish global economy, travel agents anticipate business bookings to increase by three to five percent in 2012, compared to a year ago, according to an annual business-travel trends survey.
"People are being smarter about the numbers of trips they are taking, but they not pulling back," says David Holyoke, president of Travel Leaders Corporate, which released the survey Tuesday.
Holyoke adds that corporations are being more selective, utilizing different methods such as video conferencing but still "making that investment in business travel when it relates to growth."
The survey also found that many American corporate travelers are purchasing more “front of the plane” — business or first class — seats in 2012.
According to the survey, almost 60 percent of the travel agents polled said that a 11 percent or more of their client bookings are in first or business class, almost double the percentage of respondents from last year.
In addition, the survey notes that electronic boarding passes are gaining in popularity among business travelers, who tend to be the early adopters among all travelers.
Of the 275 travel professionals surveyed, over 97 percent indicated that their business clients use a mobile device (e.g. iPhone, BlackBerry, etc.) to scan their boarding pass at airport security checkpoints.
"It's definitely the convenience factor. Smart phones are really helping improve the travel experience " says Holyoke. He adds that many airports now have a segmented desks for web only check-ins. "More technology is being used."
The survey also shows that flights are now being booked much closer to actual travel time. practices, Seven days advance booming appears to be the norm, opposed to the" misnomer of 21 days in advance," says Holyoke.
The survey by the Minnesota-based company was conducted Nov. 21 - Dec. 16, 2011, and is based on responses from travel industry professionals, with 50 percent or more of their portfolio consisting of business travel clients.