Business tourism trends in 2024

June 25, 2024

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Business travel is becoming an increasingly important segment of the tourism industry. Hotels and airlines are turning their services towards business travelers, and intermediaries are building a B2B-oriented corporate model.

But rational organization of business tourism is still an unsolved problem for many Eastern European companies. Statistics on business travel in Europe and the world for 2023 will help you understand how to turn a “business trip” into a “business trip”, keep up with the times in organizing business travel and grow by overcoming distances. Read about business tourism trends in 2024 in our separate publication.

Comeback to pre-Covid levels

Already in 2023, 25% of companies surveyed globally indicated a return to pre-pandemic travel levels. Another 34% expected a full recovery by the end of 2023. Optimism turned out to be excessive, and full recovery had to be delayed until this year, 2024.

According to Deloitte forecasts, in absolute terms, the business tourism market will reach pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2024. However, the impression of complete normalization is somewhat deceptive: taking into account inflation in real terms, the market will be 10-20% smaller than it was before the epidemic.

Hybrid work environment

A significant portion of companies still maintain a hybrid work format and do not give up remote work

A significant portion of companies still maintain a hybrid work format and do not give up remote work

Despite the pre-Covid comeback, some of the innovations caused by the pandemic have taken root in companies and are not going to go away. Firms have positively assessed the possibility of remote work and integrated it into their corporate culture.

According to Deloitte's Global State of Consumer Tracker, office employees work remotely on average 2.6 days a week. And many people like this form of work - according to statistics, they would like to work outside the office for 3.5 days.

However, not all work can be transferred to a remote format. Employees note the low effectiveness of face-to-face internal meetings and trainings (44% expressed this verdict); they can be left remotely. But attracting clients and establishing relationships with them 90% requires personal contact. So business travel cannot be replaced with a webcam.

It can be concluded that the business travel sector has developed and consolidated a hybrid work environment in less than four years. 68% of Global Travel Business Association survey respondents say this is the current situation at their company.

Flight prices are rising and so is passenger traffic.

A factor forcing some companies to delay a complete restart of offline activity is the increased prices for air travel . Analyst Ravi Shanker points out that on average, airfare prices have increased worldwide by 9% compared to 2019.

But this does not prevent the steady growth of passenger traffic, including business class travel. At its peak in 2019, the number of air passengers reached 9.2 billion. And according to preliminary data from Airports Council International, in 2023 the pre-pandemic level of flights will already be overcome with a figure of 10.5 billion air travelers worldwide.

New technologies in travel

Flight prices have increased, but this does not discourage companies from organizing business trips for employees by air.

Technological progress will play an important role in organizing business trips in the near future. And especially the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) systems into travel planning and modeling.

Statistics show that companies have not yet decided on their attitude towards the dynamic development of artificial intelligence and its implementation in the industry. 34% of firms consider the integration of AI into the program corporate travel is important, and 37%, on the contrary, is not a priority. 42% of respondents had never used ChatGPT in the industry, and 33% used it rarely. The business travel industry is yet to become closely acquainted with the latest technologies.

In a separate line, we highlight the attitude of companies to the new IATA (International Air Transport Association) algorithm for the distribution of air tickets called NDC (New Distribution Capability). Launched in 2015, the algorithm aims to simplify data sharing between airlines and agencies, customer personalization and dynamic pricing. But even in the US and EU, 71% of respondents need more information on NDC and only 22% see the new algorithm as a priority for organizing group trips companies.

Prices for hotel accommodations

Aparthotels - new tourism trend

The hotel business is also in the trend of price trends - the cost of living in hotels is steadily creeping up. In 2023, hotel accommodation prices have increased by 20-25% compared to 2019. According to Morgan Stanley analysis, the trend will continue in 2024, but at a less impressive pace: placement prices are expected to rise by 8%.

This unfriendly behavior from the hotel industry has sparked new trends in accommodating business travelers. There has been an active inclusion of non-hotel accommodation in corporate travel policies (such as short-term rentals of apartments or apart-hotels, which we wrote about here). According to 2022 statistics, in the main driver of business tourism, the United States, 45% of companies have already booked accommodation for their employees outside of hotels (compared to 9% in 2021). Only 10% of American firms remained true to tradition and refused to book alternatives to hotels.

If you still prefer to accommodate your employees in hotels, then we have prepared for you a list of the best chain hotels.

Save less on travel

In 2022, 72% of organizations limited the frequency of business travel to control costs. In 2023, the situation has undergone significant changes - only 45% of organizations resort to saving mode. Instead, the focus has shifted to reducing the cost of travel through cheaper accommodation (59% of respondents use this tool) and cheaper flights (56%).

Are you looking for how to save money on a flight without losing quality? Here is a list of the most reliable low-cost airlines in Europe.

Drivers of growth

The key growth drivers for the business travel industry, according to Deloitte, in 2024 will be the return of offline events and international travel. U.S. respondents expect international travel to account for 33% of travel spending in 2023, up from 21% in 2022 and 2019. Europe is still in the role of pre-pandemic stalker, with respondents expecting 28% of spending to go to travel outside the continent, up from 34% in 2019.

The numbers differ due to the different approaches of American and European companies. For European firms, working on client projects is the main reason for traveling outside the continent. While in American business, the main purpose of long trips is to communicate with industry colleagues at conferences and build relationships with clients.

Industry priorities

Despite rising prices, employers do not save on corporate travel, but impose efficiency requirements on them

The Global Business Travel Association, based on a survey of companies around the world, has formed a list of priorities in organizing business trips for employees expected in 2024:

  • Cost management stands out as a top strategic priority, with 62% of respondents highlighting its importance to their company's business travel program. This is followed by traveler safety (44%) and environmental friendliness (37%). We have compiled the top safest airlines in the world according to AirlineRatings.
  • In 2024, 67% of business travelers expect their travel budgets to increase (39%) or stay about the same (28%). Only one in ten (14%) employees say their firm is implementing a plan to limit business travel due to economic concerns.
  • A significant portion (63%) of firm managers surveyed plan to increase their investments in technology and digitalization of the business travel sector.

The Deloitte study further indicates that companies have become more responsible in organizing business travel. 70% of organizations strategically evaluate and prioritize potential travel outcomes (such as revenue generation) and spillover effects (costs, emissions and health risks).

We cannot ignore the growing popularity of bleisure (business + leisure) - combining a business trip and leisure. This provides incentive to employees and strengthens the corporate culture. Let's add that this approach shows concern for the environment - employees invest two trips, personal and business, into one and contribute to less carbon dioxide emissions. Thus, bleisure represents a positive trend in both business tourism and ecotourism.

Open a new page in organizing corporate travel! Work efficiently and have a pleasant rest with your travel assistant!

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