Corporate travel in Asia has increased by about 20 per cent this year, compared with that of 2009.
HRG Singapore, an international corporate travel management company, said this is due to an improved business environment.
Executives who have travelled more for business this year, include those in financial, IT and pharmaceutical sectors.
HRG Singapore’s Client Services Management head Joana Yap said: “We are seeing companies slowing easing up on their travel policy”.
She said companies last year have been arranging for their staff to travel on the economy class instead of the business class.
“Now we’re seeing companies reverting to the former trend, (which is) allowing travellers to be back in the premium classes.
“(The move came) a little faster than what we (had) expect(ed) because we thought that the corporate companies will still be very cautious.
“But I guess they’re taking a step back to say, hey, the economy is really picking up, so let’s reward our staff and put them in the premium class”.
Business travel may be up but companies are still prudent with their spending.
More are now making their own reservations on the Internet, creating a boom for online service providers.
Hotels.com Asia Pacific president and managing director Johan Svanstrom said: “In Southeast Asia, you’re probably looking at close to 40 to 50 per cent year-on-year growth rates for the past couple of years, and that goes for the online travel segment as a whole.
“The total travel market in Asia Pacific today, (including) leisure and unmanaged business (which is business doing their own bookings), is probably around S$230 to S$240 billion.
Low cost carriers, observers point out, are also taking off with more business travellers.
HRG said it expects the volume of corporate travellers using budget airlines to grow by about five per cent next year.
“This is definitely something that was unexpected a few years ago,” Ms Joana said.
“These budget carriers are doing pretty well. They’re adjusting to the needs. They’re creating premium cabin, premium seats for these business travellers. Corporate companies are getting comfortable and we see that trend coming up pretty fast.”
Aside from business travellers flying within Asia, observers also see more executives flying from Europe, the US and the Middle East into this region, to tap on the growing opportunities available out here.
In fact, industry players say some companies have increased their budget for business travels by about 10 per cent for 2011.