Global business travel is predicted to surge 38 percent in 2022 over this year’s total, and be fully recovered by the end of 2024, a year earlier than previous projections. Those are the findings of the 13th annual BTI Outlook from the Global Business Travel Association, released last week.
The rebound in travel and pent-up demand are predicted to escalate, pushing global business travel spend back to more than $1 trillion next year. That comes after a sharp 53.8 percent drop in global expenditures in 2020 to $661 billion, and a slower than predicted recovery of 14 percent in 2021 to $754 billion.
In 2021, the recovery was led by North America, especially the US, which saw a rebound of 27 percent year over year, while business travel spending in Latin America, Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific all rose 15 percent to 20 percent. Europe lagged, gaining 10 percent this year.
According to the survey, growth will ease slightly in 2023, with spending rising 23 percent as more international and group travel returns. By the end of 2024, the numbers are expected to make a full recovery to just above pre-pandemic levels at $1.48 trillion.
For the first time, this year’s BTI Outlook featured responses from both chief financial officers and business travelers. When asked about the importance of business travel to their organization, CFOs said the top return-on-investment factors are sales and business development (68 percent), internal business planning and strategy (50 percent), client account management (48 percent) and employee training and development (48 percent).
A significant majority (86 percent) of the global business travelers surveyed said travel is necessary to accomplish their business goals. Nearly as many of the 400 travelers surveyed (81 percent) predicted their volume of domestic travel in 2022will be greater or equal to pre-pandemic levels.
More than half (54 percent) of the survey respondents said they miss traveling for work and hope to do so more often in the future. However fewer travelers (43 percent) said they would not mind traveling less, whether they indicated they miss doing so or not.
Employers are requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for travel and in-person meetings for around four in five business travelers. The survey found that the recovery of business travel depended on the global vaccination effort, national travel policies, business traveler sentiment and corporate travel management policy.
The optimistic outlook for an earlier than anticipated recovery in the global business travel sector is also reflected in the latest forecast from the World Travel and Tourism Council. That research also shows business travel recovering by 2024.
With the rise in business travel demand comes a predicted increase in business travel costs. According to the latest Global Business Travel Forecast published by CWT and GBTA, hotel rates in 2022 are expected to increase 13 percent globally year over year and a further 10 percent in 2023.
Air fares are expected to rise of 3.3 percent next year and 3.4 percent in 2023, and ground transportation costs are likely to post a 3.9 percent increase in 2022 and an additional 3 percent in 2023.
The report attributes rising business travel costs to growing post-pandemic demand, capacity constraints, sustainability targets and increasing labor and fuel costs.