16 October 2003 | Mark Whitehead
Almost half of business travellers in the UK now book their trips over the Internet, according to a survey.
This puts the UK at the top of the list of eight countries in Europe, America and Asia for booking travel online.
The survey, by American Express, found 49 per cent of UK business travellers used the Internet - mainly websites run by independent booking services, travel agencies or airlines - compared with an average of 37 per cent in the eight countries.
German travellers were second most likely to book online, with 48 per cent of those questioned saying they did so, while the US was in third place, with 42 per cent. The French were the least likely to book online.
In the survey of 800 business travellers unveiled at the American Express global travel services media forum in Nice, France, most said convenience was the main reason for using the Internet for bookings. Less than one third said that saving money was a key factor.
The forum heard that the business travel industry is showing signs of recovery after two bad years marked by the deadly Sars outbreak, the Iraq war and the slowdown in consumer spending.
The cost of international business-class flights in the North America, Asia Pacific and European regions will rise by up to 6 per cent next year, according to the company's latest forecasts. Hotel prices will increase by up to 3 per cent.
Matthew Davis, director of global consulting services at American Express, said: "This is obviously great news for the airlines and hotel companies, but travel managers might be less positive, as they are the ones facing potential cost increases next year."
Charles Petrucelli, president for global travel services at American Express, said managers of multinational companies were increasingly looking for single worldwide deals to cut costs and control spending.