After a long period of slow business travel, corporations may once again be ready to send their employees on the road. During the Great Recession, business travel dropped as much as 15.6%. Corporate travel had shown some signs of life earlier this year but the sector slowed when the economic recovery proved to be uneven. However, analysts at the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) are looking for a 3.9% overall increase in 2010.
The organization has just begun publishing a new Business Travel Index (BTI). The quarterly report aims to help providers in the sector understand how the corporate travel market will be changing through economic cycles. Michael W. McCormick, NBTA Executive Director and COO, says “it is clear that companies are taking their time in shifting from the current cost-containment culture, and recovery will continue to ramp up slowly.” The NBTA sees business travel growth rates of 6.7% and 6.9% in 2011 and 2012, respectively. These growth rates will bring the BTI index to 120 by 2012, a level not seen since 2007. That index translates into a total of 511 million business trips for the year.
In a nod to the continued globalization of the economy, the NBTA also points out that business travel growth will be fueled in part by international outbound corporate travel. The recovery in outbound trips was particularly significant early in 2010.
Travel service operators ranging from airlines to agents to hotels will likely be increasing their marketing campaigns to position themselves to take advantage of the new growth in the business travel market.
[Source: U.S. Business Travel Spending, Trips to Increase This Year Despite Slowdown in Economic Growth. NBTA.org. 26 Oct. 2010. Web. 2 Nov. 2010]