Stats: U.S. Business Travel Continues to Grow

While many may believe business travel is still on hold, American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) client data shows that domestic U.S. business travel continues to grow, with bookings at their highest level since the onset of the pandemic. In fact, this month’s #TravelReady Research shows us that traveler confidence, demand and volume are on the rise, with anticipated growth from September onwards.

Here’s what you need to know:

Travel demand continues to grow where restrictions are eased: Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint figures show U.S. air travel over Memorial Day weekend peaked at 74 percent of 2019 levels. Meanwhile, in the U.A.E., where hotel restrictions have been eased, occupancy rates reached close to 2019 levels during Ramadan in May. (In fact, according to our sister publication, Travel Agent, TSA screenings have reached numbers not seen since before the pandemic.)

Anticipated travel volume continues to increase, as well. Clients who responded to GBT’s latest check-in survey expect 2021 travel volumes to be 38 percent of those in 2019—this is a 10 percent increase on expectations from April, signaling growing confidence in their travel program restart.

Domestic U.S. business travel continues to grow, especially, with bookings at their highest level since the onset of the pandemic. Growth in recovery is spreading across all industry segments, with significant positive booking trends in business and consumer services, banking and financial services, and pharmaceuticals and medical, according to GBT. 

Even better: GBT travelers are confident in their suppliers' ability to protect safety and well-being. To note, trip feedback shows travelers rating airlines and hotels with 4.5/5 for safety and well-being; car suppliers have received a 4.4/5.

With its return to travel, however, comes challenges faced by both the travelers and travel program managers. Some include:

  • Car rental supply challenges: Rising prices are being driven by a shortage in supply of new car availability in high-volume categories such as compact cars. The supply of electric vehicles is lagging behind demand in EMEA
  • Evolving tariff and fare-class changes: These changes are raising questions for travel program managers around like-for-like comparisons, and the effectiveness and impact of their sourcing programs. 
  • Stability for sourcing strategies: There is now increasing focus and importance placed on the financial stability of suppliers when buyers are making sourcing decisions.

These insights come from GBT’s ongoing #TravelReady initiative, which finds the latest business travel trends and insights based on client research, traveler surveys and data analysis.

Source: American Express GBT

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