The global business travel sector is bound to make a full recovery to pre-Covid numbers in 2024 and even enjoy a slight improvement, reaching a spend of $1.5 trillion compared to $1.4 trillion in 2019, according to data from Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) latest Business Travel Index (BTI).
The global business travel industry has rebounded at a more accelerated rate than forecast last year, GBTA says, and is now expected to surpass its pre-pandemic spending level of $1.4 trillion in 2024 and grow to nearly $1.8 trillion by 2027. In 2022, global business travel spending rose 47%, compared to 2021, to $1.03 trillion, with strong gains continuing and 32% growth expected by the end of 2023. These robust gains were fuelled by pent-up demand after the Covid-19 pandemic, more favourable global economic conditions in 2022 and 2023 and recession risks that have yet to happen.
The headwinds that were anticipated to impact the rebound of global business travel over the past year didn’t materialize and that is good news.Suzanne Neufang, GBTA CEO
“The BTI data reflects the remarkable efforts of the industry to adapt, innovate and thrive despite the challenges, along with the ongoing role and value of business travel to economies, companies and professionals worldwide”, said GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang. “This latest forecast now indicates an accelerated return to pre-pandemic spending levels sooner than anticipated as well as growth ahead in the coming years. Business travel spending is a key indicator, but how travel volumes will continue to rebound is yet to be seen.”
The Business Travel Index is an annual exhaustive forecast of business travel spending and growth covering 72 countries and 44 industries. The 2023 edition outlines the top-level outlook for forecasted global business travel spending and other trends for 2023 to 2027. The two biggest drivers in the industry’s stabilization over the last six months have been the return of in-person meetings and events and the recovery of some international business travel capacity and volumes.
New in this year’s BTI is data and analysis from GBTA’s comprehensive survey of 4,700 business travellers across five global regions, representing insights from employee travellers regarding their business travel preferences, behaviours and spending including what they report as their average price of a business trip now. Business travellers globally currently estimate their own business travel spending, on average, amounts to $1,018 per person per trip. On average, lodging accounts for $391 and food and beverage is $189. Air averages $182 while ground transportation ($136) and miscellaneous expenses ($120) rounds out the total.
Moreover, business travellers say they are more frequently (62%) blending business and personal travel (bleisure travel) than they did in 2019, with 42% adding additional leisure days to their business trips and 79% staying at the same accommodation for business and vacation portions of their trip.
Regionally, Western Europe grew the fastest in 2022, while the Central and Easter regions continued to be affected by the war in Ukraine. North America and Latin America saw spending growth accelerate significantly in 2022, while Asia Pacific was the big laggard last year given the delayed reopening of the Chinese economy. Chinese business travel spending fell 4.6% last year, dropping China to the second business travel market in the world for the first time since 2014. However, the country is expected to recover back to being the first business travel market in the world by the end of 2023.