Skift Take

Ever tried sealing a deal with Indian businesses through a computer screen? It isn't easy. Indians are all about face-to-face meetings and building real connections. No wonder business travel in India is bouncing back quicker than elsewhere.

India’s business travel spending is set to reach $38 billion this year, with a projected full recovery to pre-2019 spending levels by 2025, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

One factor is that 86% of business travelers consider travel necessary for meeting their business goals, according to Sunny Sodhi, managing director of FCM Travel India.

“Companies prioritize in-person interactions with clients and suppliers to expedite projects. Professionals also embark on business trips to participate in meetings, events, and seminars,” Sodhi told Skift.

In 2023, India’s business travel spending surged by almost 25% reaching 78% of pre-pandemic levels. In 2024, the projected growth in business travel and meetings and events, is likely to grow 18%.

India is the ninth-largest market globally for business travel expenditure and the fourth-largest in the Asia Pacific region.

Business travel in India is recovering faster than in other markets. Online travel agency MakeMyTrip has also talked about how its corporate travel platform has been gaining traction.

Aiming to focus on corporate travel, Cleartrip last month launched “Out of Office,” a corporate travel management product.

How And Where Are Corporates Traveling?

The trend of blended travel mixing business with leisure has gained momentum among Indian corporates, noted FCM. Sodhi shared that almost 79% of Indian business travelers extended work trips for leisure, surpassing Asia Pacific figures and aligning closely with global trends.

Noteworthy shifts in demand through FCM Meetings and Events include a surge in wellness activities and curated luxury experiences. Think walking tours in Maasai Mara and dinner along the Mara River — some activities that FCM recently organized for its clients.

Emerging destinations for meetings and events for Indian corporates comprise Central Asia and Vietnam, and this Sodhi said was mainly due to the simplified visa procedures and enhanced flight connectivity.

“Asia has continued to outperform, with a significant 44% increase in revenue. This is fueled by strong performance across Southeast Asia, India, and the re-opening of China,” said Bertrand Saillet, managing director of FCM Travel Asia.

And Now The Challenges…

Despite progress, challenges persist, such as geopolitical uncertainties, economic volatility, flight disruptions, and health concerns.

According to Sodhi, addressing these obstacles would require industry and market diversification to reduce dependence on specific regions or sectors. “We have to be adaptable with our travel policies to navigate such uncertainties.”

Business travel in India is also evolving rapidly, driven by technological advancements reshaping travel experiences, he said.

Sodhi also noted a growing demand for quality data. He said this has prompted FCM Travel to leverage data insights to tailor travel policies and experiences.

The Skift India Summit from March 19-20 in Delhi-NCR, will be deciphering the big trends facing the travel industry. The event will provide an opportunity to hear from leaders across all sectors, including tourism, hospitality, aviation, experiences, and more.

Skift India Summit Registration

Discounted price of $495 (Solo) and $445 (Group) for a limited time only. Full-price tickets are $745 (Solo) and $695 (Group).

Please read our FAQ for details about refunds, safety procedures, and other details.

Subscriber Benefits

Subscribers to Skift Research, Skift Pro, Daily Lodging Report, Skift Short-Term Rental Report, and Airline Weekly receive discounts off full-price tickets to in-person events. Visit our Subscriber Benefits page to find your discount code

Online Attendees

A limited number of free online tickets will be released in the spring for paid subscribers.

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Tags: asia monthly, business events, business travel habits, business traveler, cleartrip, corporate travel, corporate travel management, fcm, gbta, makemytrip, mice, visa waiver

Photo credit: Business travel in India is recovering faster than in other markets.

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