Business travel is set for a “blockbuster season” this autumn, fuelled by the return of conferences and increased internal travel to bring dispersed teams together.
That is according to the latest analysis from TripActions after the travel management company examined its forward bookings from 1 September through to 19 November, said that global travel bookings are up by nearly six times compared to the same period in 2021.
TripActions saw travel spending rise by 27 per cent in August after a “flat” summer for corporate bookings. This trend is set to continue through September with another projected increase of 30 per cent in bookings.
Bookings made in the EU also showed a similar “seasonal bump” with a fall of 20 per cent between June and July being followed by a 24 per cent rise in August. In the EMEA region, the top destinations for business travel this autumn are London, Paris and Lisbon, followed by Dublin, Rome and Barcelona.
As the travel industry moves out of the peak summer holiday period, flight prices are also falling in the US and Europe. Airfares are now at a lower level than in 2019 before the pandemic struck.
TripActions said flight prices within Europe have dropped by 47 per cent from the summer peak of £329 to £223 by the end of August. The average flight price for an internal EU flight was £225 in August, which was down from an average of £233 in August 2019.
The changing nature of work with more remote and dispersed workers is also reflected in the fact that bringing together “distributed” teams is now the number one reason for business travel. On and off-site team meetings now account for 38 per cent of business travel, compared with 33 per cent of trips for sales purposes, which had been the top reason for travel pre-Covid.
“Today’s work models are by default global,” said Nina Herold, EVP and general manager of travel at TripActions. “How we’ve traditionally thought of road warriors is shifting – sales are still high priority but now we’re seeing customers place as much importance on team travel and strengthening culture as we do for sales wins.”
There is also more evidence of employees blending business and leisure trips with 35 per cent of bookings now including a weekend stay.
Nearly two-thirds of businesses globally (65 per cent) are planning to increase the amount they travel, including a rise in both the average number of travellers per company and average daily bookings.
Larger companies seem to be leading this latest stage of corporate travel’s recovery with the volume of their daily bookings rising by 24 per cent compared with pre-Covid levels, which equates to an average of an extra 3,300 bookings per year.
“Autumn is shaping up to be a blockbuster season for business travel, thanks to a combination of conferences, team off-sites and personal travel extensions,” said TripActions in its report.
“The purpose behind some trips may have shifted, and the typical traveller may now come from a different department. But based on TripActions’ booking and spending data, there’s no question that the enthusiasm for hitting the road has returned. Of course, these new patterns are far from settled and new developments are likely to appear.”