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Economic Conditions Loom as Threat to Business Travel

Only eight percent of travel managers report current plans to limit travel because of the economy, but most see it as a concern.

With the strength of corporate business travel so closely linked to the success of meetings and conventions, industry professionals will find useful insights from the October 2022 Business Travel Recovery Poll released October 6 by the Global Business Travel Association. One thing comes through clearly: Economic considerations have eclipsed Covid concerns.

In fact, when asked to choose the factor most likely to limit business travel in 2023, 80 percent of travel suppliers say economic conditions while only eight percent
cited Covid-19 concern. (The balance selected “other” or “none.”)

The good news is that the majority of travel managers are not yet seeing the effects of a weak economic outlook on travel policy. Respondents were asked if economic concerns will affect business travel in 2023:
30 percent say it’s unlikely to limit business
45 percent are taking a wait-and-see approach but are not seriously considering limiting business travel
18 percent are considering limiting business travel but have not made any decision yet.
8 percent are already implementing a plan to limit business travel because of economic concerns.

Better yet, 66 percent and 67 percent of travel managers say they expect a higher volume of internal and external travel, respectively, in 2023 compared to 2022. For the all-important external meeting travel, only 4 percent expect to see less in 2023 versus 2022.

An interesting nugget from the survey for conference organizers: Two in five travel managers (41 percent) have seen an increase in employees asking for blended travel, or “bleisure” trips, where they combine a business trip with vacation.

“We continue to see progress as business travel makes its way back to being a $1.4 trillion global industry, pre-pandemic. It is also important to understand the context of global business travel’s recovery. Asia is still opening its borders, international business travel in general started picking up only earlier this year across the globe, and the U.S. has only permitted unrestricted travel since June,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA. “Even as this latest poll shows that economic considerations have eclipsed Covid-19 concerns, the industry is showing positive indicators and sentiment for 2023.”

The October 6 GBTA survey received 594 responses: 41 percent from travel managers, eight percent procurement professionals, 33 percent suppliers, 10 percent travel management companies, and eight percent “other” industry professionals. It is GBTA’s 29th poll tracking challenges and recovery for the business-travel industry since the pandemic began. View the full results of the most recent survey here

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