Amex forecasts slight increase in 2010 travel costs

American Express Co.'s travel advisory unit today forecast that travel costs are likely to rise slightly next year, reflecting pent-up demand coupled with changes in supply. Business class air fares will see some of the greatest fare increases because of the need for businesses to keep traveling internationally. A few stats from the report are in a Travel Weekly trade-newspaper article found here.

At the same time, Amex officials said at a news conference that there is a "new normal" level of business travel, with companies scrutinizing every trip by every traveler, that will keep cost increases modest. More use of teleconferencing -- like the techology Amex was using to broadcast its news around the world -- is part of a serious effort to keep costs down and find ways to measure ROI, or return on investment, of every trip.

One of the most interesting tidbits from the forecast was a note that when measuring average air fares, what can't be precisely included is how "ancillary fees," such as for checked bags, add to the cost of air travel. Best estimate by the Amex experts: Add about 15 percent to the cost of the average air trip to get the true bottom line figure these days.

I will tell you more about the data that Amex reported in an  upcoming column.