Like the entire tourism sector, business travel suffered greatly amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. But the initial fears of a complete replacement of face-to-face meetings with online events have faded as corporate travelers rediscovered the value of conducting business in person when the restrictions were finally lifted. This does not mean a complete comeback to the old ways of traveling. On the contrary, the online solutions developed during the health crisis will keep contributing to the overall business travel experience. Travel expense management, flexible hotel and flight bookings, car sharing, and collaboration tools are some of the services in which corporate travelers enjoy the benefits of digitalization.
In terms of business travel expenditure, a full recovery would still need some years. As of early 2023, companies around the world were still catching up with pre-pandemic spending on work-related trips.
The expenditure on business trips worldwide rose steadily in the last decade, reaching approximately 1.3 trillion U.S. dollars by 2019. However, this figure fell dramatically with the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, dropping to the same levels of spending recorded in 2004 and 2005. As forecast, global business travel spending could surpass pre-pandemic levels only in the mid-2020s.
Attending exhibitions and trade shows is one of the main purposes of work-related trips. This format allows businesses to promote outside the digital world products and services to a range of stakeholders. However, companies strongly reduced the resources destined for such meetings in the past years because of the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
With the environmental challenges of our time, more and more travelers are increasingly looking for sustainable solutions for transport, accommodation, and other tourism services. These sentiments have also arisen in the business travel and meetings industry, driving providers to implement changes to minimize their environmental footprint.
Amazon and FedEx led the list of the biggest U.S. spenders on business travel in 2021. The ranking includes companies and institutions from different industries, like e-commerce, media, finance, and tech. Among the travel companies with the highest sales revenue, two online travel agencies (OTAs) took the lead that same year by a wide margin. However, the rest of the top ten companies in the ranking operate in business travel, indicating the importance of this segment for the entire travel indus
In 2021, the business travel spending in the United States was higher than the combined sum of the following eleven G20 members in the list – excluding the European Union. With the lifting of travel restrictions in Europe and most Asian countries in the following year, as well as the border opening in China in early 2023, this gap is expected to shrink.
Business travel is the branch of the tourism industry focusing on trips taken for business purposes. It comprises the segments such as accommodation, transport, travel management, meetings and events. Business travel accommodation encompasses tourism establishments mainly dedicated to corporate travelers. This market particularly focuses on hotels. Business travel spending includes all expenses associated with trips, such as transport, accommodation, and food costs. The meetings and events sector covers meetings, conferences, exhibitions, and incentive travels.
To efficiently manage logistical and financial aspects of business travel, companies rely on travel managers, namely employees taking care of travel programs, travel policies, and travel & expense (T&E) reporting. Usually, big companies decide to outsource this job to so-called travel management companies (TMC). The main players in this field are American Express Global Business Travel, BCD Travel, and CWT.