US business travel expected to rise steadily: GBTA

Domestic travel climbs as companies capitalize on strengthening economy
 south of the border

July 10, 2013
by Travel Management Canada Staff

Alexandria, VA—Business travel spending should continue to climb through 2013, driven in large part by growth in domestic travel spending, according to the GBTA BTI Outlook—United States 2013 Q2, a report from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and sponsored by Visa, Inc. This is a notable shift from prior years when companies had to look abroad for business opportunities in the face of a sagging US economy, the report says. Now, signs of a healthier domestic economy, including steady job gains and higher consumer confidence, are encouraging companies to increase their investment in domestic travel. 

Overall, business travel spending for 2013 is expected to reach $273.3 billion—an upgrade from last quarter’s forecast of $268.5 billion for the year. This would be a 4.3-percent increase in spend over 2012.

“With the US economy moving into a more stable growth mode, companies are seizing on opportunities closer to home,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO. “The rise in domestic business travel spending is a positive sign of increasing business confidence and bodes well for future employment growth.”

Solid growth in travel spending is not being driven by rising prices alone. The GBTA report finds that “real” travel spending growth per trip (the increase after accounting for travel price inflation) is projected to hit 1.3 percent this year—in contrast with 0.3 percent in 2012.

Steady global outbound and group travel growth 
international outbound business travel spending is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2013 to $33.1 billion—a slight decline from last quarter’s projection of $33.3 billion. This is due in part to a softening in the economies of key US export markets, including China and the Euro-zone. 

Group travel spending should also continue to grow in 2013, rising by 5.3 percent to $117.1 billion. However, GBTA expects group travel volume to fall slightly by (0.3 percent) in 2013 to $166 million person-trips, driven by some continued corporate constraints on meetings activity.