I:FAO Software Chief Predicts Bookings for Business Travel Will Rise by 4%

I:FAO, a maker of software for planning business trips, predicts growth in business-travel bookings will resume next year as companies order more flights and hotel rooms.

“The number of bookings will return in 2011 to the average 4 percent global growth rate we have seen in the past decade,” Louis Arnitz, chief executive officer of the Frankfurt-based company, said yesterday in an interview in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Business travel declined during the economic crisis as companies reduced spending, causing airlines and hotels to cut prices to attract customers. The probable increase in bookings next year won’t be fully reflected in corporate travel revenue because of price cuts, Arnitz said. Companies still tend to book economy instead of business class and make reservations in cheaper hotels than before the crisis, he said.

Booking growth will be spurred by exporting countries including the U.S., Germany and France, the CEO said. Carmakers will account for a “double-digit” increase while the chemical industry will boost hotel and flight reservations by a high single-digit figure, he said.

“I:FAO understands business travel as an early indicator for an economic improvement and we count on booking numbers to increase for existing as well as for new customers,” the company said in April. I:FAO has customers in 29 countries.

The company gets a flat fee for every booking made with its software, regardless of value. First-quarter net income climbed 3.6 percent to 920,798 euros ($1.11 million) as sales rose 4.8 percent to 2.91 million euros, the company said in April.

To contact the reporter on this story: Holger Elfes in Dusseldorf, Germany, at helfes@bloomberg.net and

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