Air Travel News
Study: Economic factors will slow growth of business travel
The recovery in U.S. business travel has been moving along at a pretty good clip in recent months, but a new analysis suggests that global and domestic economic difficulties could keep more road warriors at home.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), which issues regular reports on the outlook for corporate trips, said it is revising downward its most recent projection for growth. The group now estimates that U.S. business travel spending will increase by just 2.2 percent for 2012; earlier, it has forecast a 3.6 percent increase.
The slowdown in growth is partly due to “economic uncertainty in Europe,” GBTA said. “In addition, ongoing concern in the U.S. economy, including low job growth, failing consumer confidence and retail sales, and slowing corporate profits, have created significant headwinds for business travel in the near term.”
The group said that overall, “there is increasing evidence that businesses may be entering into a holding pattern as they wait for the economic environment to solidify.”
For 2013, GBTA is now predicting that the overall number of U.S. business trips will decline slightly (0.7 percent) from 2012 levels, although spending on those trips will increase 4.7 percent to $268.5 billion. Both this year and next, “international outbound travel will continue to drastically outpace domestic travel,” GBTA predicted, with a projected spending growth rate of 2.9 percent in 2012 and 7.2 percent in 2013.
But the recent boom in business travel to China may be ending, the group said. “Falling economic growth rates in China will likely leads to less trade and hence fewer trips from the U.S. The projected slowdown in China and the economic challenges in Europe will lead to lower levels of international growth in the near term.”
GBTA CEO Michael McCormick cautioned member companies against cutting travel plans too much due to economic uncertainty. “GBTA research shows that is the exact opposite of what they should be doing,” he said. “In addition to the damage that slashing travel spending will do to a company’s bottom line, cuts to travel budgets could make a bad economic situation significantly worse due to business travel’s impact on the overall economy…Companies cannot afford to overreact just because there may be clouds on the horizon. Benching road warriors will only impact sales exactly when companies need to focus on growth.”