GBTA: Business travel will reach pre-pandemic levels

ALEXANDRIA,VA – A majority of U.S. corporate travel buyers expect their company’s business travel to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. Despite looming economic concerns, only one in five travel managers say their companies have begun to limit business travel. Since the onset of the pandemic, demands on travel managers’ time have grown, including addressing traveler needs, conducting data analysis, and the increasing challenge to balance cost savings with the business traveler experience. This is according to a new report from GBTA and Spotnana based on a recent survey of U.S.-based corporate travel buyers.

“We wanted to look to those on the front lines who have been navigating all the changes happening in business travel for their expert insights and outlook on what might lie ahead. Tapping into the experiences and perspectives of travel managers provides valuable knowledge that can empower all stakeholders to optimize their business travel programs,” said Johnny Thorsen, VP Partnerships, Spotnana.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Travel managers largely expect business travel will reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023, including domestic business travel (74%), external meetings (77%), conference/group travel (76%) and internal meetings (69%).
  • Most companies (64%) are unlikely to limit business travel, although many (36%) are taking a wait-and-see approach and not seriously considering limiting business travel. Only one in five travel managers (19%) is already implementing a plan to limit business travel.
  • Both travel managers (54%) and senior leadership (65%) are prioritizing cost savings, but travel managers rank traveler experience higher (51%) than executives (42%).
  • When asked where they dedicate more time to now, travel managers cite traveler communications / answering questions (72%) and overseeing their TMC relationship (59%), along with data analysis (52%) and risk management / traveler tracking (42%).
  • Three in five travel managers (62%) say cost-focused metrics are the most important measures they will use to evaluate their program’s success in 2023. However, a notable number (32%) say travel experience-focused metrics will be the single most important measure they will use to gauge success. (Source: GBTA)