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European Business travel rebounds

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According to the most recent GBTA poll, European-based travel managers have experienced a recovery of their foreign reservations to about 60% of pre-Covid levels (Global Business Travel Association).

Europe’s recovery for international business travel has outpaced North America’s market, where foreign visits have just returned to roughly 50% of 2019 levels, according to a global poll of 600 travel managers, suppliers, and industry professionals. In terms of the return on foreign business travel, Europe is far ahead of the global average of 54%.

While North America’s non-international travel has recovered to 68 percent, while the global average was 67 percent, Europe’s domestic business travel recovery, which has rebounded to 63% of pre-pandemic travels, still trails behind.

The first global poll conducted by GBTA in 2023 examined the industry’s perceptions of bookings and expenditure, as well as levels of optimism, employees’ propensity to travel, staffing shortages at suppliers, and the effects of China reopening its borders.

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According to the survey, businesses anticipate to send more personnel on business trips this year despite concerns about a recession in several regions, with industries like finance, insurance, professional services, and consulting showing “stronger signals” of doing so in 2023.

The GBTA discovered that 78% of travel managers anticipated “more” or “a lot more” business travel for their organizations this year than they did in 2022. Only 7% of managers believe that their employees will take fewer travels this year.

90% of respondents said that travelers would be more likely to travel for business in 2023, and 88% of managers would be more positive about the “road to recovery” than they would have been in late 2022.

86 percent of suppliers anticipate that corporate client expenditure will increase in 2023 compared to last year, indicating that they do not believe the economic downturn will hinder the recovery of business travel.

“The comeback of business travel will differ between regions, industries, and enterprises,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO of the GBTA. A majority of corporate travel managers say their organizations anticipate more business travel than last year, despite lingering concerns about a worldwide recession.

The poll also noted that after the pandemic, staffing for travel suppliers was “still depressed,” albeit this condition is anticipated to change in 2023 as more workers are hired.

For corporate travel departments, it’s a different picture, with 78% of buyers predicting that their personnel numbers will either be the same as before Covid or “somewhat larger.” Nearly half (45%) of buyers anticipate greater program budgets this year due to increasing spending on labor, technology, and consultants.

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