Business travelers can expect to rack up even more airline miles in the coming year.
U.S. businesses spent upwards of $292 billion on corporate travel in 2014, and according to the latest forecast from the Global Business Travel Association, that figure is expected to increase by over 6 percent in 2015, totaling over $310 billion spent on business trips.
Joe Bates, the VP of research for the Global Business Travel Association, credits this rise in corporate travel spending to businesses being at a "solid point in the economic recovery," he tells USA Today. This fiscal upswing is making businesses take a more relaxed line on business travel expenditures, allowing employees to upgrade to business class or premium economy seating when traveling for work, according to Bates.
International business travel trips are expected to increase, as well, by as much as 8 percent as more U.S. companies look abroad and tap into the global marketplace to boost profits. Business travel, domestic and international, will also be spurred by lower gas prices coming this year. Cheaper fuel means that airline ticket prices could drop by almost 1 percent. In sort of a competitive domino effect, it only takes one airline to drop prices for more to follow suit.
As business travel spending climbs, companies like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb are aiming to capitalize. Last year rival ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft unveiled new programs aimed at businesses looking to help their employees get around. Uber for Business kicked off in July and allowed business travelers to directly pay for Uber trips using a corporate account, rather than having to expense them. A few months later, a new Lyft feature gave companies the ability to purchase and issue Lyft credits to employees to be used exclusively for company-mandated travel.
Airbnb, which estimates that nearly 10 percent of all bookings are business travel related, will present at the annual Business Travel Show in London next month to illustrate how the corporate travel industry can embrace the sharing economy.