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Travel Managers’ 2024 Predictions: 3 Takeaways

GBTA’s 2024 Outlook Poll reveals business-travel momentum but also a number of major issues potentially slowing gains in travel volume and spending.

About 20 percent of all business travelers are headed to conferences and trade shows, according to the January 2024 Business Travel Outlook Poll conducted by the Global Business Travel Association. So, what that poll also has to say about the direction of travel spending and volume in the year ahead should be of note to event organizers.

GBTA gathered input from 707 travel buyers and other industry professionals across North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia-Pacific between January 9 and 22. It published the poll results on January 31, including these three key findings:

More business travel: About six in 10 (59 percent) of travel buyers expect the number of business trips to increase at their company in 2024 compared to 2023, while only 11 percent predict fewer business trips this year. North American travel buyers are especially bullish, with 66 percent predicting travel increases while European buyers are less so—only 37 percent expect an increase in travel.

Higher spending: Two-thirds of buyers (67 percent) expect their company’s travel spend to increase in 2024 versus 2023. Here’s the breakdown of responses looking at 2024 travel spending compared to 2023:
• Much higher (more than a 20 percent increase): 11 percent
• Somewhat higher (1-20 percent increase): 55 percent
• About the same: 21 percent
• Somewhat lower (1-20 percent decline): 10 percent
• Much lower (more than a 20 percent decline): 2 percent
• Don’t know: 2 percent

Potential barriers. As 2024 unfolds, the business travel industry faces a number of big issues. For the survey, GBTA listed 14 topics, from costs to climate impact to economics, and asked survey respondents to select and rank what they thought would be the most significant in 2024. Thankfully, pandemic concerns are now in the rear-view mirror, with only one percent of respondents noting them as a top concern. However, the survey revealed five top issues grabbing the industry’s attention:
• Rising cost of travel: 66 percent

• Overall economic concerns: 46 percent
• Company budgets not keeping pace: 42 percent
• Travel disruptions (delays, cancellations, long lines): 32 percent
• Geopolitical concerns: 22 percent

The full results of GBTA’s January 2024 Business Travel Outlook Poll are available here.

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