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How 452 Million Business Trips Define Road Warrior Travel in Surprising Ways


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This GBTA study shatters misconceptions about U.S. business travel. Most business trips did not involve a hotel stay, and the majority didn’t involve a flight. Car rental companies like these facts on the ground.

— Dennis Schaal

The Global Business Travel Association Foundation, with an assist from corporate sponsor InterContinental Hotels Group, issued its latest gung-ho report on the beneficial impact that business travel has on the U.S. economy.

In sum, business travel spending reached $384 billion in 2012, the year under review, and contributed about 3% to U.S. gross domestic product. And every 1% bump in business travel spending adds some 71,000 jobs to the workforce, the study says.

But, the GBTA study also crafts a fascinating profile of U.S. business travel and the U.S. business traveler in 2012. Consider that:

  • U.S. businesses dispatched road warriors on 452 million trips in 2012.
  • The average business trip in the U.S. in 2012 lasted just 1.75 days and covered a mere 268 miles, which lends credence to the argument that business travel by train and car is very common, and just gets no respect.
  • When business travelers take flights for a work-related trip, the average distance covered jumps to 945 miles per trip, but most trips did not involve flights.
  • U.S. business travelers spent on average per trip $147 on hotels, $230 for transportation, $100 on food and beverage, $28 on shopping, $22 on entertainment, and $13 on miscellaneous items — for a grand total of $540 per trip. Or presumably these are the amounts they billed to the company.
  • When breaking out business trips that included air travel, the average spend per trip rose to $1,100.
  • During 2012, the average business traveler spent 1.58 nights per month in a hotel, or 19 nights throughout the year. That comes to an average daily rate of around $93.
  • Most business trips do not involve overnight stays. In 2012, business travelers averaged two overnight trips per month, and four day trips.
  • Who were these 2012 business travelers in the U.S.? The majority were 35-55 years old, three-quarters of them were married, and their average household income was $102,329.
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