7 Business Travel Trends That Event Organizers Need to Know Now
While leisure travel rebounded at a much faster pace coming out of COVID, business travel has picked up momentum in 2023, according to the 9th CWT Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Travel Price Forecast 2024.
The report helps businesses understand market pricing for airfares, hotel room rates, ground transport and meetings and events. The forecast also explores where prices are heading, as well as the drivers of change.
“For business travelers as well as for the travel industry, 2023 and 2024 will present a dynamic environment characterized by economic uncertainty and heightened volatility amid complex global political situations affecting certain regions,” said GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang.
She continued, “Rises in the cost of business travel also raise many questions. What should companies be thinking about now to anticipate and prepare for, to do what's best for their organizations and their travelers in terms of in-person meeting opportunities? ”
As budgeting for 2024 begins, here are seven key trends event organizers need to know now.
Average costs for meetings and events is projected to rise across the board. The average cost per attendee, the average cost for F&B per attendee and the ADR for group hotel bookings will continue to increase from 2023 to 2024 (no surprise).
Pressure on pricing. Demand and other factors have pushed pricing upward. The trend is expected to continue, but it could be at a slower pace. “Indeed, government stimulus programs in 2020-21, inflationary pressures, higher interest rates and strong leisure demand have all put pressure on today’s prices,” according to the report. “Looking forward, price growth will likely be muted as the global economy loses momentum and there are looming economic uncertainties at play.”
Hotel rates continue to rise. The ADR is expected to be $174 in 2024, up from $168 in 2023 and $161 in 2022. According to the report, “The global average daily room rate defied predictions and rose to $161 in 2022, more than $14 higher than predicted last year, representing a rise of 29.8% year-over-year.” Event organizers may find the best rates in large urban cities, like San Francisco, where rates haven’t reached pre-pandemic levels yet.
Rebound in business travel continues to lag leisure. “For instance, current U.S. air bookings are down 25% for business versus 9% for leisure compared to 2019 according to the Center for Aviation,” the report stated.
Seller’s market continues. Don’t expect to get deals from hotels or other travel suppliers in the near-term. “Suppliers are now in greater control when it comes to pricing, which means the point at which discounting occurs has shifted and are unlikely to give up their pricing power quickly.”
Combining business and leisure. “Two in five travel managers reported an increase in blended travel interest among employees, according to a GBTA poll. There’s more openness to blended travel from senior managers as well. This follows a cultural shift from the strains of the pandemic, but also how travel intersects with well-being, employee retention and recruitment, especially for younger travelers.” Keep this in mind when selecting destinations and hotels for upcoming events.
Airfares expected to grow at a more modest pace in 2024 (image). “Looking forward, price growth is likely to be more modest at 2.3% in 2023, albeit from an already high base. The same is true for 2024, when 1.8% growth in prices is expected,” according to the report. This means event organizers will need to budget for increased air travel costs.