Global business travel topped $1.2 trillion and is expected to reach $1.6 trillion by 2020, according to new research by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), an association representing the interests of corporate travel managers. What’s more, China has now surpassed the U.S. as the largest business travel market in the world, ringing up $291 billion last year.
At the same time, all is not rosy and a number of major issues are lurking ahead. A weakening global economy, Brexit and this year’s U.S. presidential election will mean growth will not be a straight line upwards.
Former President Bill Clinton addresses an audience at the annual 2012 Global Business Travel Association Convention at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The group just held its 2016 event in Denver. The industry is expected to grow from $1.2 trillion to $2 trillion by 2020. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
“The uncertainty created by financial upheaval and pending changes to trade and immigration rules will raise management heartburn. This will cause some postponement, even outright cancellation, of business trips. It may also trigger travel budget constriction as management seeks to hedge the uncertainty,” the report says.
At the same time Concur, a company that provides support services for travel managers, released research that the sharing economy is gaining traction with business travelers, based on its analysis of 40 million users who spend over $70 billion annually.
Concur data indicates 56 percent growth for Airbnb type services in usage from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016. On average, business travelers stay five nights when home sharing versus three nights in a hotel.
“Managing travel and expense is becoming increasingly complex, between integration with mobile technology, nuances in traveler preferences, and new travel supplier strategies,” notes Robb Nielsen, vice president of global product experience at Concur. “This demands a fully connected travel and expense ecosystem paired with actionable insights, giving travel managers the visibility and control they need to drive cost savings.”
Arne M. Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, is on the mind of travel managers as they wait to see how he will seek to leverage the increased share once his company’s merger with Starwood Hotels and Resorts is completed. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Time Inc)
A big issue with managed corporate travel is mobile technology. A survey from Sabre Corporation revealed than seven in 10 business travelers in the United States (78 percent), Italy (77 percent), Canada (74 percent) and Spain (73 percent) prefer using self-service technology to manage their travel, while the rate is slightly lower for the Nordic countries (60 percent) and Germany (56 percent).
A press released added, “The vast majority of business travelers also want to receive personalized travel options. However, even though business travelers want personalized options, they are hesitant to share too much personal information to obtain them. They are commonly willing to share details such as their frequent flyer or hotel loyalty number, preferred airline and hotel brands and aircraft seat preferences, but fewer than half would share their travel history, preferred leisure activities while traveling, their business calendar with booked appointments and their social media account names.”