June 13, 2024

Business travel ‘riding a wave of momentum’

Global business travel is “riding a wave of momentum” at the start of 2024, according to the latest Business Travel Outlook Poll by the GBTA.

Nearly 60% of global travel buyers anticipate more travel in the coming year, with two-thirds anticipating increases in business travel spending.

However, the figure was lower for buyers in Europe (37%) than those in North America (66%).

The survey of over 700 business travel professionals from 41 countries identified concerns about rising travel costs, overall economic uncertainties, lagging corporate budgets and travel disruptions.

Almost half of travel buyers say the adoption of remote and hybrid workplace models has prompted them to revamp their employee travel policies and programmes.

“The business travel industry has ushered in a new chapter and moved beyond the pandemic,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA.

“As companies and travellers continue to embrace the vital role of in-person connection for business, there are strong indicators for continued growth in travel volume and spending in 2024.

“This bodes well for the future of our industry and its professionals – even as we navigate new challenges of ‘travel for work,’ continue to advocate for sustainable options, and evolve business travel programs so they’re fit for purpose.”

The January 2024 GBTA poll also found:

  • 83% of travel buyers say their 2023 global business travel bookings rose compared with 2022, with 31% saying significantly, 37% moderately and 15% slightly
  • 84% of buyers say their travel spending increased over the same period, and of these 33% said significantly, 38% moderately and 13% said slightly
  • 59% of buyers expect the number of business trips will increase at their company in 2024 compared to 2023
  • 11% expect employees will take fewer business trips in 2024 
  • 67% expect their company’s travel spend to increase in 2024 versus 2023
  • 11% expect their spending will be lower 
  • Top 2024 concerns include the rising cost of travel (66%), overall economic concerns (46%), company budgets not keeping pace (42%), travel disruptions (32%) and geo-political concerns (22%).
  • Climate impact and sustainability was cited as a top concern for 2024 by 19% of respondents overall but for European respondents the figure is 41% versus 12% in North America
  • Technological advancements, including artificial intelligence, were cited by 19% of all respondents as a top concern, but figures differed between travel suppliers (27%) and travel buyers (13%).

A separate report out this week, based on a poll of 250 UK travel buyers by Uber for Business, found 89% say travel is a growing business priority in 2024.

They also anticipate increased budgets driven by return-to-office policies, inflation and ESG requirements.

The Uber for Business survey found:

  • 53% of buyers indicate that inflation and rising travel costs are expected to contribute to higher travel budgets in 2024
  • 52% foresee that evolving work habits, like hybrid working and return-to-office mandates, will inflate budgets
  • 51% predict ESG requirements for more sustainable travel will push up budgets
  • 61% of respondents report that rising climate concerns are leading to significant changes in their travel policies
  • 39% consider ESG reporting a high priority when selecting vendors or partners, insisting that all partners offer green reporting 
  • 78% express satisfaction with the ESG reporting capabilities of their current provider