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Business travel on the rise

Seattle hotels welcome boost in business travelers.

The travel industry usually experiences a bump in leisure travel from June through August. What better time to see the world – or grandma – than when little Susy is out of school? But this year the domino effect of rising fuel prices leading to rising airline ticket prices means families are staying put. Luckily for Seattle’s hotel industry, summer business travelers are taking their place.

Tom Waithe is Regional Director of Operations for Kimpton Hotels – a nationwide chain with three hotels in Seattle. He said:

The corporate traveler is the guy you want because they tend to spend a little bit more money and they tend to be a lot easier guest and so that’s the one we’re always really targeting and looking for. They’re more likely to go down to the bar and order dinner and a couple of drinks versus someone traveling with their family that has to balance out the family budget.

In fact, companies are relaxing their grip on corporate travel budgets. And a new survey out by the Global Business Travel Association – an industry trade group – says people traveling on the company dime are expected to spend about $246 billion this year. Up nearly 7 percent from 2010.

And it’s not just hotel rooms that they’re spending money on. Growth in spending will extend to airfare, car rentals, and meals, which Waithe said is great news for Kimpton’s restaurants. During the bleakest times:

You saw an awful lot of people ordering appetizers for dinner, sharing plates etc. And we’re really seeing a nice uptick in people ordering full meals and a good bottle of wine. And that makes a heck of difference in the operation of the property.

Overall, companies can expect the average expense report to grow by more than 3 percent. That’s about $550 per trip. So go ahead and put it on the company tab.  Just remember to keep all your receipts.