GBTA: Pandemic in the past as business travel has strong start to 2024

31 January 2024

Source: GBTA: Pandemic in the past as business travel has strong start to 2024, by Felicity Cousins, Business Travel News Europe, January 31, 2024


The global business travel industry “has put the pandemic behind it and is riding a wave of momentum at the start of 2024,” according to the latest Business Travel Outlook Poll, conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

The 33rd poll of GBTA’s long-running series features insights from 700 business travel professionals from more than 41 countries.

When asked about top industry issues anticipated for 2024, pandemic concerns were at the bottom of the list, cited by only one per cent of those surveyed.

And more than half of respondents (57 per cent) say it is no longer relevant to compare industry performance for 2024 against 2019 pre-pandemic levels. However, one third (32 per cent) maintain the comparison is still relevant for the coming year.

Instead of pandemic worries, industry stakeholders reported their top 2024 concerns include the rising cost of travel (66 per cent), overall economic concerns (46 per cent), company budgets not keeping pace (42 per cent), travel disruptions (32 per cent) and geopolitical concerns (22 per cent).

Climate impact and sustainability was also cited as a top concern for 2024 by 19 per cent of respondents overall. For European respondents the figure is 41 per cent versus 12 per cent in North America. 

Additionally, technological advancements, including artificial intelligence, were reported by 19 per cent of all respondents as a top concern, but figures differed between travel suppliers (27 per cent) and travel buyers (13 per cent).

On a more positive note, eight in 10 (83 per cent) travel buyers say their 2023 global business travel bookings increased – whether significantly (31 per cent), moderately (37 per cent), or slightly (15 per cent) – versus 2022. 

The story is similar for travel spending with 84 per cent of buyers reporting their travel spending increased significantly (33 per cent), moderately (38 per cent), or slightly (13 per cent) over the same period. 

Meanwhile, two-thirds of respondents (67 per cent) anticipate increases in business travel spending this year versus 2023, and most travel buyers expect their company’s business travel spending and volume to increase in 2024 compared to 2023.

Only 11 per cent said they thought their spending will be lower. This is consistent with GBTA’s October 2023 poll.

Six in 10 (59 per cent) buyers expect the number of business trips will increase at their company in 2024 compared to 2023, while only 11 per cent expect employees will take fewer business trips in 2024. 

At a regional level, more travel buyers in North America (66 per cent) expect an increase in employee travel in 2024 compared to European buyers (37 per cent).

The survey also reveals the impact of hybrid working, with almost half of respondents (48 per cent) saying they have revised or plan to revise their company’s travel policy to reflect changes in working habits.

Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA said the business travel industry had begun a new chapter and “moved beyond the pandemic.”

“As companies and travellers continue to embrace the vital role of in-person connection for business, there are strong indicators for continued growth in travel volume and spending in 2024.

“This bodes well for the future of our industry and its professionals – even as we navigate new challenges of ‘travel for work,’ continue to advocate for sustainable options, and evolve business travel programmes so they’re fit for purpose.”

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