Travel Trends

American Express Business Travel Monitor Shows Signs Travelers Are Returning to the Road

Domestic and International Airfare Rates Show Modest Increase in Third Quarter; Travelers Are Starting to Move Back to the Front of the Plane; Hotel Rates Continue to Decrease in Upscale Categories, but Increase in Mid-Price, Economy and Budget Tiers

American Express American Express Business Travel, a global leader in business travel management, released third quarter data and analysis from its Business Travel Monitor (BTM) North America. Modest airfare increases were seen and travelers appear to be moving back to the front of the plane, showing positive signs companies may likely be feeling more optimistic about the economy.

The BTM is published by eXpert insights, American Express Business Travel's research practice of Global Advisory Services. The BTM is a monthly pricing index tracking actual airfares paid on the most popular business travel routes for domestic and international travel compared to published prices. It also tracks paid hotel and car rates in key business travel markets.


Highlights of the Q3 BTM include the following:
International and domestic airfares paid from North America increased quarter-over-quarter, where as year-over-year airfares continue to be down. From a hotel perspective, rates varied across hotel categories quarter-over-quarter, but overall average rates decreased both internationally and domestically. In looking at individual hotel tiers, rate increases were evident in budget, economy and mid-tier categories.

Average international airfares paid increased two percent quarter-over-quarter

Average domestic airfares paid increased two percent quarter-over-quarter

Average international booked hotel rates decreased 10 percent year-over-year

Average domestic booked hotel rates decreased two percent year-over-year, but increased seven percent in budget-tier hotels quarter-over-quarter

Car rental rates increased five percent in Q3 2009 and remained flat year-over-year

'While economists watch key market indicators such as inventory levels and unemployment, we may be seeing a glimmer of economic hope as the Business Travel Monitor data shows modest fare increases and travelers moving to the front of the plane again,' said Christa Degnan Manning, director, eXpert insights, Global Advisory Services, American Express Business Travel. 'This is an encouraging sign for the business travel industry because it indicates increasing demand as well as willingness to pay for premium products, which help with supplier profitability and their ability to provide consumer discounts.'

Continued Manning, 'Pent-up trip demand coupled with supply base changes have caused rates to slightly increase in the third quarter. There has also been a slight increase in the usage of business class tickets for international travel, up one percent from last quarter, to 37%. However, this is still down year-over-year from 49% of all international business traveler tickets purchased.'

Year-Over-Year Average International Airfare Paid:
Q3 2006 - $1,713
Q3 2007 - $1,853
Q3 2008 - $2,010
Q3 2009 - $1,638

Quarter-Over-Quarter International Average Airfare Paid:
Q3 2008 - $2010
Q4 2008 - $1918
Q1 2009 - $1680
Q2 2009 - $1603
Q3 2009 - $1,638
October 2009 - $1,730

Year-over-Year Average Domestic Airfare Paid
Q3 2006 - $231
Q3 2007 - $231
Q3 2008 - $253
Q3 2009 - $215

Quarter-Over-Quarter Average Airfare Paid:
Q3 2008 - $253
Q4 2008 - $237
Q1 2009 - $213
Q2 2009 - $212
Q3 2009 - $215
October 2009 - $219

Hotel Rates
Continued drop in demand has impacted both international and domestic hotel bookings. Manning added, 'Since hotels can not reduce capacity as easily as air or ground transport providers, this drives rates down, and the effect will likely continue through the first half of 2010. However signs point to an increase in demand from the bottom up, where rates have notably increased up to seven percent in lower hotel tiers, driven by a positive up-tick in demand from travelers wanting to travel, yet doing so more cost-consciously.'

Average International Booked Rates Paid:
Q3' 08 - $266
Q4' 08 - $207
Q1 '09 - $228
Q2 '09 - $241
Q3 '09 - $239
October 2009 - $230

Average Domestic Booked Rates Paid:
Q3' 08 - $147
Q4' 08 - $162
Q1 '09 - $153
Q2 '09 - $150
Q3 '09 - $144
October - $156

Average Daily Car Rental Rates
2006 - $69
2007 - $72
2008 - $74
Q1 '09 - $73
Q2 '09 - $71
Q3 '09 - $74

About the American Express Business Travel Monitor, North America
The American Express Business Travel Monitor is a key deliverable of American Express Business Travel Global Advisory Services' Research practice eXpert insights. It benchmarks the average prices paid by business travelers for air, hotel, and car rental service by major cities and classes of service through aggregate analysis of American Express' extensive global database of travel booking and payment information.

The BTM includes both average published and purchased air fares captured across hundreds of domestic and international routes, including unrestricted first class, business, economy, and discounted, restricted economy air fares. The methodology for the average air fare paid is the one-way price paid by all travelers booked through American Express Business Travel, including taxes and fees, for all routes.

Average booked hotel rates, both international and domestic, represent the total spending of all American Express Business Travel clients, excluding taxes, divided by the total number of room nights confirmed. The full BTM includes hotel averages by major city neighborhoods and category of hotel by price range. The average daily cost for car rentals is drawn from American Express(R) Corporate Card data and includes all charges incurred, including mileage, gas, tax and insurance, divided by the average length of rental. Data for the distribution of rental class categories is drawn from all rentals booked by the entire American Express Business Travel customer base.

About American Express Business Travel
American Express Business Travel (, a division of American Express Company, is committed to helping its clients maximize the return on their travel investment through traveller decision-support, best practice cost control strategies and tools, and world-class customer service. With clients ranging from small businesses to multinational corporations, American Express Business Travel provides a combination of industry-leading technology, travel management consulting, strategic sourcing and supplier negotiation support, alongside online and offline customer service globally. The Company also provides a dynamic online community ( harnessing the collective intelligence of those in the business travel industry offering a variety of perspectives, current research, and industry news.

American Express operates one of the world's largest travel agency networks with locations in over 140 countries worldwide. Total travel sales volume in 2008 was $29.1 billion, including proprietary volume, volume processed through joint ventures, and American Express branded volume processed through its partner network.

American Express Company ( is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850.

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