GBTA poll points to ‘strong’ 2024 for international business travel

Nearly three-quarters of buyers expect their travel budgets to increase or remain the same next year, and most say they don’t expect economic concerns to limit business travel at their company, the International Business Travel Association’s Outlook Poll revealed Monday.

The poll, which was conducted from October 11 to October 19, received 865 total responses worldwide, 47 percent of which came from travel managers and buyers or from purchasing or sourcing professionals. Among buyer and procurement respondents, 39 percent said their organization’s 2024 travel budget will be higher than this year, and an additional 5 percent said it will increase “significantly,” at least 25 percent annually. 28 percent said their budget will remain the same next year, while 20 percent said their budget will be lower. The remaining 8 percent do not know what their budget will be next year.

14 percent of buyer and procurement respondents said they are currently implementing plans to limit business travel because of economic concerns, according to the GBTA. An additional 25 percent said they were considering a limit but had not yet made a decision. A quarter of respondents said they are unlikely to restrict business travel for economic reasons, with 32 percent taking a “wait and see approach” but not seriously considering restrictions on business travel.

“With some exceptions, industry international trade continued to grow again last year and made significant strides toward returning to business as usual,” GBTA CEO Susan Nufang said in a statement. “Further challenges await, but there are stronger indicators for what lies ahead.”

Across all respondents, including suppliers and travel management companies, 43 percent said their company’s business travel had recovered completely or significantly this year compared to 2019 levels, and 41 percent said it had mostly recovered. 14 percent said they had partially recovered.

On average, respondents indicated that domestic travel bookings are at 76 percent of pre-pandemic levels, a four percent increase from the April GBTA poll. International registrations were up seven percentage points from April, compared to the 2019 average of 70 percent of respondents.

NDC will gain some ground

Although most buyers indicated they were still at sea in terms of NDC strategies, the poll reflected a softening of buyers’ views on new transmission capacity technology since April.

Among buyer and procurement respondents, 71 percent said they still need more information and education on the NDC, a 10 percent decrease from the April poll. Fewer buyers think airlines are pushing NDC bookings faster than in April, with 45 percent in the current poll compared to 53 percent in April.

Less than one-third of buyer and procurement respondents to the survey indicated that they had begun implementing NDC in their programs. 10 percent stated that they started the implementation without any problems, while 22 percent said that we have started the implementation but we are facing challenges. Half of the buyer and procurement respondents said they had not started NDC implementation. A further 11 per cent said it was “too early to tell” and the remaining 6 per cent were unsure.

Across all poll respondents, 46 percent listed adoption and implementation of new technologies, including NDC, as one of their organization’s two biggest technology-related challenges by 2024, the highest percentage of any option in the poll. Budget constraints ranked second at 38 percent.

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