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The 2014 Corporate Travel Index, Business
Travel News' 30th annual effort to assemble business travel per diems for
200 cities around the world, features some new names atop the lists of most
expensive U.S. and non-U.S. cities for daily business travel costs. But the
overarching story this edition’s data tells is yet again of an industry still
trying to recover its economic footing as it slowly, unevenly crawls away from
the 2008 abyss.
[Please click here to view the digital edition of the 2014 Corporate Travel Index,
featuring all per diem listings, downloadable as a pdf.]
The data also show the changeable regional
nature of the recovery. For years China and India were irresistible lures for
many major travel suppliers, but even they have stagnated along with the rest
of the Asia/Pacific region, at least for now, and CTI travel per diems have
dropped accordingly. On the other hand, the wary eye once cast upon Europe as
it struggled through eurozone economic troubles and scattershot corporate
travel demand gave way to a healthy 2013 uptick in volume and per diems.
However, according to the Corporate Travel
Index, the world's most expensive city for daily business travel costs is
neither among the traditional business capitals of Europe nor the largest U.S.
cities: It's the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, and it's not even very close.
While some of Caracas' 28 percent year-over-year increase in its daily business
travel costs is due to a February 2013 devaluation of its currency, it doesn't
account for all of the increases in the city, currently beset with political
protests and unrest.
But Caracas is an outlier. In fact, when
averaging all 100 non-U.S. cities listed in the 2014 Corporate Travel Index,
the per diem derived from daily food, hotel and miscellaneous costs is
$368—only two U.S. dollars more than the per diem listed in the 2013 Index.
In the United States—where, unlike the 100
listed non-U.S. cities, daily car rental costs are included in the Corporate
Travel Index, along with hotel and food costs—the average per diem for the 100
included cities rose to $292.80, about 1.9 percent higher than last year's per
diem, as further declines in car rental rates diluted hotel and dining price
Leading the way as the most expensive U.S. city
for daily business travel is San Francisco, the first time in recent memory
that a city other than New York led the list. But San Francisco's combined
average daily hotel rates and occupancy taxes have become the most expensive in
the country, fueling the city's ascent to the top of the list.
All per diems are based on hotel prices paid by
BCD Travel corporate clients and food cost benchmarks supplied by consulting
firm Mercer Inc. U.S. per diems also include car rental prices paid by BCD
Travel's corporate clients, while non-U.S. per diems include miscellaneous
costs calculated by Mercer. The full 2014 Corporate Travel Index methodology is
The 200-city roster is unchanged from last
year's Corporate Travel Index.
The 2014 edition of the Business Travel News
Corporate Travel Index is based on actual prices paid in 2013 by corporate
clients of BCD Travel, provided to BTN
by BCD's Advito consulting arm, as well as research conducted by The BTN Group
and Chicago-based consulting firm Mercer Inc., a subsidiary of Marsh &
U.S. Corporate Travel Index
Total U.S. per diems are compiled by adding the
average hotel, car and food costs listed here.
Hotel: The U.S. hotel
cost charts display average upper upscale, upscale and midprice hotel rates
paid by BCD Travel corporate clients from January to November 2013, in addition
to an overall average daily rate. That overall rate is calculated by averaging
rates from the three listed tiers as well as luxury and economy tiers. Average
hotel costs include 2013 year-end sales and occupancy taxes and surcharges
based on information collected from each city's convention and visitors bureau,
chamber of commerce or other public data.
Advito this year also provided BTN with revised average daily rate data
for the January to November 2012 period, again representing what BCD Travel
clients actually paid but reflective of improved internal data collection and
consolidation processes. The "ADR change" column reflects only the
year-over-year change between the 2013 ADR data and the new 2012 data, provided
this year. The "change" column incorporates 2012 and 2013 sales and
occupancy taxes and surcharges, collected separately by BTN for each year.
Car rental: The car rental
costs listed are averages for each city based on actual rates paid by BCD
Travel corporate clients from January to November 2013 for compact,
intermediate and full-size rentals, and include taxes and surcharges, also
calculated by Advito. As with average daily hotel rates, Advito this year also
provided revised 2012 data. The "rate change" column reflects only
the year-over-year change between the 2013 average rate data and the new 2012
data, provided this year. The "overall change" column incorporates
tax and surcharge data for the past two years, as provided by Advito.
The changes in BCD Travel's 2012 data also are
reflected in the year-over-year change columns in the total and alphabetical
U.S. per diem charts on pages 8 and 10, respectively.
Food: BTN commissioned
consulting firm Mercer Inc. to survey restaurateurs and calculate the cost of
standard meals in each location. Totals reflect January 2014 pricing for a
breakfast of two eggs, meat, toast, orange juice and coffee; a lunch of soup, a
hamburger or chicken sandwich, a slice of pie and a soft drink; and a dinner of
soup, filet steak, a glass of red wine, dessert and a cup of coffee.
To offer more robust data, Mercer this year
added national U.S. chain restaurants to its database of local restaurants for
each city. The chain restaurants include Denny's and International House of
Pancakes for breakfast; Applebee's and Chili's for lunch; and Outback
Steakhouse and other available chain steakhouses, including Ruth's Chris and
Morton's, for dinner. The inclusion of chain restaurants means that
year-over-year comparisons to last year's published food cost data, which is
used in the chart on page 18, do not use matching data sets.
The listed costs do not include tax but do
include a 15 percent gratuity.
Americas, EMEA & Asia/Pacific
Corporate Travel Index
As with U.S. Corporate Travel Index data, per
diems for the 100 listed cities outside the United States are based on prices
paid in 2013 by corporate clients of BCD Travel, provided to BTN by BCD's Advito consulting arm, as
well as research conducted by Mercer. For the Americas (excluding the United
States), Europe/Middle East/Africa and Asia/Pacific regions, BTN calculated year-over-year change
percentages against total per diems listed in the 2012 Corporate Travel Index,
which were compiled in the same manner as this year's data. Those changes were
not calculated using constant U.S. dollars; instead, local prices were
converted to U.S. dollars using exchange rates from Oct. 4, 2013, and measured
against 2012 Corporate Travel Index per diems, which used exchange rates from
Nov. 22, 2012. The roster of cities included in the Corporate Travel Index did
not change from last year's edition.
Hotel/Miscellaneous: Advito provided to BTN average upscale daily hotel rates
paid by BCD Travel corporate clients from January to November 2013. Rates do
not include taxes. For the miscellaneous category, Mercer included the costs of
two taxi fares, a newspaper, a bottle of water and a magazine. Unlike the U.S.
data it provided, Advito did not update the 2012 data published in last year's
Corporate Travel Index.
Food: Mercer provided
to BTN actual January 2014 menu item
costs for hotel continental breakfasts; lunches of sandwich, salad and a
nonalcoholic drink; and dinners of a fish, chicken or beef entree, salad and a
This report originally appeared in the March 17, 2014, issue of Business