- The global business travel industry has reached near-full recovery as compared to 2019’s pre-pandemic levels, according to the Global Business Travel Association’s Business Travel Outlook Poll, released Monday.
- In the poll, travel buyers reported increases in their employees attending in-person meetings and conferences (55%), holding virtual meetings (52%), blending business and leisure travel (50%) and taking multi-purpose or multi-destination business trips (49%) in 2023, as compared to last year.
- Industry experts have said that business travel, along with group travel, will outpace leisure to lead demand growth for the remainder of 2023. Challenges, though, persist for the sector, according to professionals surveyed in the poll.
Most of the business travel stakeholders (84%), including business travel buyers and suppliers, surveyed in GBTA’s poll said their company’s business travel in 2023 has either largely or mostly recovered as compared to 2019 levels.
The poll also shows that business travel spending has risen globally, reaching 77% of pre-pandemic levels in the U.S. and 74% internationally.
Business travel spend has been on the rise throughout the year, with GBTA reporting in August that global business travel spending rose 47% year over year to $1.03 trillion, $395 billion of which went toward lodging costs.
Also in August, the organization predicted global business travel would return to its pre-pandemic total of $1.4 trillion in 2024 and grow to nearly $1.8 trillion by the end of 2027.
However, Suzanne Neufang, CEO of GBTA, said in a statement that despite the sector’s growth, “challenges are expected.”
In the poll, respondents said the top barriers that have affected their business travel in 2023 include corporate budgets lagging behind price increases (69%), inflation/recession concerns (63%) and geopolitical events (44%).
Some professionals will combat these challenges in 2024, as 39% of travel buyers expect their travel budgets to increase, and 62% of respondents said cost management is a top strategic priority, emphasizing its importance for their company’s business travel program.
And while buyers were more likely than suppliers to say travel disruption is a significant barrier currently, the majority of respondents said travel disruptions have only had a slight-to-moderate impact on their employees’ willingness to travel for business.
According to Neufang, there are “optimistic indicators for an even stronger year ahead as organizations continue to leverage business travel and face-to-face connections as a critical part of their strategy to achieve important and ambitious objectives.”