Growth — albeit modest — is better than negative territory when it comes to business travel. But it's hard to get too excited about "stable and steady" progress.
After a year of modest growth in U.S. business travel, experts are calling for more of the same over the next two years.
In a report released Tuesday, the Global Business Travel Association said that the number of business trips originating in the U.S. is expected to increase by about 3 percent in 2016 and 2017. Spending is forecast to tick up about the same percent.
For 2015, the organization said an estimated 498.9 million people took a business trip, an increase of less than one percent compared to the previous year. Travelers spent about $290.7 billion, 2.5 percent more than in 2014.
“It was a very strong year for business travel, I think one in which certainly the travel suppliers had a very good year in terms of business performance,” said Michael W. McCormick, executive director and chief operating officer of GBTA. “We saw the most stable U.S. business travel market we’ve seen in quite some time, maybe going back to 2007 — pre-recession for sure.”
He said the next couple of years are expected to deliver “still good, stable business travel numbers year over year, but not high growth in transactions.”
For 2016, the number of business trips that start in the U.S. is projected to reach 514.2 million with $299.9 billion in spending. The following year, that spend is forecast to reach $310.4 billion over 528.9 million trips.
McCormick said he expects a few trends to emerge this year: China will surpass the United States as the world’s largest business travel market; struggling economies in Latin American, African, Middle Eastern and Asian countries will continue to be a drag on global business travel; suppliers will focus on wooing and retaining premium business travelers and players within the business travel industry will continue to consolidate.
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Photo credit: A passenger looks out the window at Miami International Airport. 127115 / 127115