According to a new study by Airplus, travel managers believe the number of business trips, as well as the cost of those trips, is set to rise in 2019.

The 14th annual International Travel Management Study from Airplus International shows 45 per cent of the 777 corporate travel managers surveyed expect their company to travel more in the year ahead – up from 38 per cent in 2018 and the highest since the global financial crisis of the late-2000s.

Only 10 per cent of respondents – who come from 24 countries worldwide – predict that their company will travel less, while 44 per cent expect no change.

Travel managers in India are the most optimistic, with 83 per cent forecasting an increase in business trips. In contrast, 33 per cent of Russian travel managers – more than any other country – predict less travel.

Nearly half (46 per cent) of those polled believe the global economy will have a positive impact on business travel in 2019 – far more than the 27 per cent who felt the same in 2018 and the highest in the six years that Airplus has included this question on the survey. This comes despite uncertainty in certain markets, such as Brexit, slow growth in the Chinese economy and ongoing international trade disputes. Only 16 per cent forecast a negative effect.

While travel managers are optimistic about the frequency of travel, they also worry that costs will rise this year, posing a significant challenge to businesses. More than half (51 per cent) believe travel will be more expensive in 2019 – up from 41 per cent last year.

Yael Klein, marketing director of Airplus, commented: “Our travel managers’ prediction of increased corporate travel highlights the importance that business travel has gained over the years. Regardless of any possibly positive or negative effects of the global economy, travel managers consider business travel to be necessary and essential in order to gain new business and meet corporate challenges.

“But more travel also means companies need to pay increased attention to controlling their rising spend. Luckily, there are many excellent tools and techniques to help track and manage travel spend. 2019 is definitely the year to put these good travel management practices in place, or review them if you already have a strong managed programme.”

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