American Express Business Travel predicted 2012 North America corporate travel prices generally would increase by low- to mid-single-digit percentages, but forecast an "overall slight decline in demand for U.S. air travel next year" amid sluggish economic performance. North American airfares, according to Amex, will rise between 0.5 percent and 7 percent year over year, with short-haul business-class fares at the upper end of the forecast range and long-haul economy-class fares at the lower end. The travel management company projected North American hotel rates would increase between 1.5 percent and 6.5 percent, with economy and "moderate" tier properties coming in slightly higher in the forecast range than upscale- and luxury-tier properties. "North American demand appears to be slowing and growth is predicted to likely come to a near halt in the coming year if economic uncertainty continues," according to Amex. "This means that hotels will not be able to command price increases in negotiated business contracts as high as the suppliers themselves are currently projecting to investors. Even extremely popular cities like New York City are not seeing demand strong enough to support double-digit level of increase in rates, despite the hard line hotels have been trying to take lately in negotiations." For car rental base rates, Amex predicted a decline as much as 3 percent, citing "aggressive competition in the marketplace and the slower recovery of higher-priced small business accounts who are watching their bottom lines very carefully in 2012." Source: Business Travel News