The Global Business
Travel Association in a report released Tuesday painted a somewhat positive
picture for business travel in 2013. The group forecast a 4.6 percent year-over-year
increase in U.S. business travel spending this year—including domestic and
outbound international trips—but a 1.1 percent drop in trip volume. That
suggests a higher average cost per trip than in 2012, an increase GBTA
characterized as "very modest price inflation."
According to the
association, the increase in spending—to be driven by more robust outbound international
and group travel—will accelerate throughout the year, starting with a 2 percent
rise in the first quarter and growing incrementally to 7.2 percent in the
fourth quarter. "While companies will approach the first half of the year
with some caution, pent-up demand to get back on the road should hopefully fuel
accelerating growth in business travel spending through the end of 2013,"
according to a statement attributed to GBTA executive director Michael
GBTA added a caveat that
total spending will increase "provided there is continued easing of
economic and political uncertainty."
The projected increase would
reverse the slower business travel spending GBTA reported for late 2012, when
"companies postponed critical investment decisions until after the U.S.
presidential election and congressional debate on the fiscal cliff."
According to the association, overall 2012 U.S. business travel spending grew
1.6 percent year over year on a nearly 2 percent decline in trip volume.
For 2013, business
travel spending within the domestic U.S. market is projected to increase 4.4
percent while trip volume slides down 1.1 percent.
travel spending, after having "stumbled" to 0.7 percent growth in
2012 amid economic concerns in Europe that affected business confidence
worldwide, is expected to increase nearly 6 percent this year, GBTA estimated. "Although
the eurozone remains troubled, increasing industrial production and retail
sales in China signal an improving economy for 2013," the association
wrote. "A stronger China will improve U.S. export growth and help act as
an engine for international outbound business travel."
GBTA also expects
stronger group travel spending, with annual growth around 5.2 percent this year
following a 1.3 percent increase in 2012.
For 2014, GBTA forecast
total U.S. business travel spending to jump 7.3 percent on a 1.7 percent
increase in trip volume. Projected 2014 domestic travel growth is noticeably
weaker than outbound international, with spending pegged to increase 6.5
percent and 13.1 percent, respectively, and trip volume to rise 1.6 percent and
7.6 percent, respectively.