A majority of travel buyers and suppliers alike expect higher levels of business travel in 2023 compared with 2022, according to a Global Business Travel Association survey of 637 travel industry professionals conducted earlier this month.
More than three-quarters of travel managers and buyers, which represented 39 percent of total survey respondents, said their company would have more business travel this year than last year. Twenty-two percent of total buyer respondents indicated that increase would be "a lot more," according to GBTA.
Only 7 percent of buyer respondents said travel volumes in 2023 would decrease year over year, and 15 percent said travel levels would remain the same.
Among suppliers, which made up 37 percent of survey respondents, 86 percent said they expected their corporate customers' spending to be higher this year, with 26 percent saying the spending would be much higher. Nine percent said corporate business travel spending will be flat this year, and only 1 percent expect a decrease.
GBTA noted that the responses were more optimistic than its previous survey in October, in which 80 percent of suppliers expected an increase this year, 15 percent expected flat spending levels and 5 percent expected a decrease.
Bookings and spending on average are not likely to get near pre-pandemic 2019 levels this year, however, according to the survey. At the present, survey respondents said on average their domestic bookings are at 67 percent of 2019 levels—an improvement from 63 percent in the October survey—and they expect spending this year will reach 68 percent of 2019 levels.
International business travel bookings currently are at 54 percent of 2019 levels—an improvement from 50 percent in October—and spending for international trips averages 58 percent of 2019 levels, according to buyers in the survey.
Travel to China is still largely absent from that recovery, the poll indicated. Less than a quarter of buyers surveyed said their employees are typically allowed to travel to China, and 28 percent said that such travel is allowed but their company recommends they do not. Just under 30 percent said their employees are not allowed to travel to China at all.