Global business travel spending is expected to surge in 2022 with full recovery expected in 2024, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA)’s latest business travel index, an annual study of business travel spending and growth covering 73 countries.
Business travel spending ended 2021 on pace with the 2019 pre-pandemic spend of $1.4 trillion – a year sooner than previously forecast.
Forecasts and analysis highlights from the latest BTI Outlook, include:
- Global business travel activity has started its rebound from the sharp downturn brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. After declining 53.8% in 2020 to $661 billion, global expenditures are expected to have rebounded 14% in 2021 to $754 billion.
- Despite recovery setbacks in 2021, a year-over-year surge of 38% is expected in 2022, bringing global business travel spending back to over $1 trillion.
- Recovery will continue into 2023, with global spending rising 23% year-over-year as more international and group travel comes back online.
- In 2025, global business travel growth is forecasted to slow to 4.3% – just below the 10-year average growth rate of 5.1% coming into 2020.
“Of any year we’ve issued the BTI Outlook forecast, this one was the most anticipated and it’s no surprise,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO of GBTA. “The business travel industry recognizes there are factors, related to COVID-19 and beyond, that could impact the road ahead over the coming years. However, there is optimism overall as the industry, companies, and travelers worldwide lean into recovery and the much-needed return to business travel.”
According to GBTA’s January poll, two in three travel managers (64%) feel their employees are willing or very willing to travel for business.
However, business travel is expected to look different in the upcoming years. Because fewer employees have been traveling, companies have gotten used to saving money on travel. Employees are now encouraged to bundle visits to multiple clients or events into a single trip, according to GBTA.
“There’s a real drive toward that by global corporations – so, trips may be fewer, but they may be longer,” said Neufang. “So, they’re able to get that quarter’s meetings with fewer trips overall.”
The term “bleisure” travel is becoming a trend; it combines business travel with leisure. Business travelers add days onto the front or back end of their business plans for leisure and relaxing.
In the coming months (and possibly years), business travel will likely still involve vaccine or mask mandates as coronavirus variants come and go, according to GTBA.