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Luxury travel, even for business, continues its comeback from the depths of the recession, the industry is finding.

Ritz-Carlton Fountain

Businesses are trying to book smarter and save money where they can on four- and five-star hotels. Photo by Josh Hallett.

But an erratic economy is making for a slow and spotty return that remains below the highflying days before the financial collapse of 2008.

The…elite business travelers served by high-end travel service Ovation Travel, for instance, are buying just 3% more first-class airline tickets this year than they were last year, according to Ovation senior executive Michael Steiner.