Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

April 15 2013

The New Normal of Business Travel

By David McMillin, Staff Writer

business travel

While global economic challenges may continue to make headlines, it looks like business is getting back on the right track in the United States.

The most recent forecast from the Global Business Travel Association predicts that business travel is expected to increase by more than five percent in 2013. That’s a more promising outlook than the organization anticipated, and it’s quite the uptick from the growth the entire sector saw in 2012: a measly 1.8 percent increase.

The increase appears to mean great news for the meetings industry, too. According to the GBTA data, group spending is expected to increase by six percent this year to reach a total of nearly $116 billion. While meeting planners and hoteliers alike have been dealing with the post-recession challenges of many companies tightening their budgets, this forecast may be another signal that those belts are finally loosening.

SEE ALSO: Convene’s 22nd Annual Meetings Market Survey

“This positive forecast for group spending reinforces the findings of Convene’s most recent Meetings Market Survey,” Sherrif Karamat, COO, PCMA says. “As businesses look to compete and grow, it’s clear that those organizations are recognizing that face-to-face meetings and conferences play a key role in that growth.”

Employees Reigning in Expense Accounts

However, employees are recognizing how their travel expenses impact that growth, too. In a survey of more than 700 business travelers conducted by Embassy Suites, respondents indicated a higher level of concern about how much they’re charging to those company credit cards.

  • 80 percent said that the economic climate has changed the way they traveled for business over the past five years.
  • 70 percent of respondents said they’re focused on travel options that don’t raise red flags with their company’s finance department.
  • 33 percent indicated that they have increased their use of teleconferencing.

SEE ALSO: When You’ll Find the Cheapest Flights

“Many employees are now looking at booking business travel through the same lens they use when booking personal vacations,” Karamat says. “It’s all about value.”

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