Navigating toward a new normal in business travel

The third edition of Deloitte’s corporate travel study indicates business travel continues to climb in the United States and Europe, but likely faces a limited upside.

Apr 17, 2023

By many measures,1 leisure travel in the United States and Europe reached pre–COVID-19 levels months ago, after following consistent upward trends since the rollout of vaccines in early 2021. Corporate travel, however, has been slower to return. Decisions about these trips face an entirely different calculus, accounting for a host of factors: traveler safety and willingness to board a flight, client interest in meeting in person, the value of attending a conference, and whether a virtual conferencing platform can replace the trip—just to name a few.

Key takeaways

  • Responses from travel managers indicate that corporate travel’s rebound is on similar trajectories in the United States and Europe. Spend in the combined markets is projected to surpass half of 2019 levels in the first half of 2023, and two-thirds by the end of the year;
  • Live-event attendance appears poised to be a big growth driver, leapfrogging from the fifth biggest trigger for increased spend in 2022 to the top spot in 2023. More than half of travel managers in both the United States and Europe expect industry events to spur travel growth this year;
  • Many supplier contracts were frozen for two years or longer during the COVID-19 pandemic and began to be renegotiated in 2022. As buyers return to the negotiating table with lower expected trip volume, some report that some suppliers are pushing for higher rates. Hospitality providers are reportedly taking a stronger approach than airlines, and European suppliers are pushing harder than American ones;
  • Climate concerns will likely put a cap on corporate travel gains for several years to come. Four in 10 European companies and a third of US companies say they need to reduce travel per employee by more than 20% to meet their 2030 sustainability targets.

Get the full report at Deloitte

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