Business Travel Professionals Show Optimism, Commitment in Their Career Outlook for 2024, According to Latest GBTA Poll  

Business Travel Professionals Show Optimism, Commitment in Their Career Outlook for 2024, According to Latest GBTA Poll   Work life balance, contentment and industry opportunity in their roles fuel loyalty 

Global travel buyers and suppliers also report continued knowledge gaps, desire for clarity and implementation challenges related to New Distribution Capability 

As the business travel industry continues to show strong indicators toward reaching a spending forecast of $1.5 trillion USD in 2024, the latest sentiment poll released today from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reveals an industry workforce of experienced, engaged professionals who are leading the way.  

GBTA, the premier trade association for business travel worldwide, unveiled its April 2024 Business Travel Outlook Poll that provides valuable perspectives from across the industry. Drawing on the responses of over 800 business travel buyers, suppliers and other business travel professionals across 41 countries, this 34th installment of GBTA’s ongoing survey series reveals the current state of the profession, including gauging the latest sentiment on the implementation of the New Distribution Capability (NDC). 
Survey results show a significant majority of global business travel professionals like or love working in the industry, reflecting a sense of optimism and career satisfaction in the sector. Many respondents anticipate they will stay in their current role in 2024, and professionals continue to join from outside the industry. A quarter of industry respondents expect promotions within the next year. Travel buyers remain at the helm of key decision-making for their organization, especially in travel management company (TMC) relationships, hotel and air sourcing. And when it comes to navigating NDC − a technology standard that will transform how airlines sell flights through various distribution channels − many business travel professionals continue to voice challenges in education, information, clarity and rollout details. 

“GBTA’s survey paints a picture of an engaged workforce in the business travel industry. Professionals are focused on core duties, and there’s a healthy sense of optimism about career expectations and opportunity in the year ahead. We are also benefiting from those new to the industry – with almost 20% of supplier professionals and 10% of buyer professionals coming to business travel from outside industries,” said Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA. “The findings also underscore the importance of continuous learning and collaboration, particularly when managing change like the potential impact of NDC on travel programs.” 

The Current State of the Global Business Travel Industry Professional 

  • The Travel Buyer as Decision Maker 
    When asked about various functions and their travel program’s role, travel buyers are most likely to be the lead decision makers for overseeing their organization’s travel management company (TMC) relationship (67%), hotel sourcing (55%) and air sourcing (54%). Additionally, an average of 18% of their time is spent on meetings and events duties by those respondents (66%) who have those responsibilities as part of their role. 
  • For Business Travel Professionals, Passion Fuels Commitment 
    An overwhelming 85% of all stakeholders say they “love” (32%) or “like” (53%) working in the business travel industry. Suppliers (37%) are more likely to say they “love” working in industry compared to buyers (28%). Moreover, the vast majority (82%) plan to stay in the business travel industry in the coming year, with a high intention to remain with their current employer (65%). Suppliers (22%) are more likely than buyers (10%) to have changed companies within the business travel industry in the past year.  
    The overall job-hopping rate is low, with only 16% reporting they changed companies in the industry in the past year. However, in a notable trend, respondents based in APAC (35%) are more likely than those in Europe (17%), Latin America (15%) and North America (13%) to have changed companies within the industry in the past year.  
    One in four (27%) survey respondents expect to receive a promotion/job title change in the next year. Stakeholders in APAC (41%) and Latin America (38%) are more likely to expect a promotion in the next year than those based in North America (27%) or Europe (18%). 
    Additionally, a strong majority (57%) would choose the business travel industry again as their career. This is good news for the 19% of supplier/TMC professionals and 10% of buyer professionals who say they have joined business travel from another industry in the past year – who can expect to have long, successful careers in this new industry they now call “home.” 
  • Compensation Insights and Expectations from Industry Professionals 
    Most business travel professionals (86%) report an increase in base salary this year, and 16% report a moderate/large increase of more than five percent. Most travel buyers (83%) have or expect to receive a bonus in 2024 in addition to their base salary. Of the buyers that expect to receive a bonus, 31% say their bonus will be higher than it was last year. Additionally, 15% said they received or expect to receive a large/moderate raise – with 32% expecting higher bonuses compared to last year.  
  • Work-Life Balance in Focus 
    Most professionals surveyed (80%) feel they have a great (35%) or decent (45%) work-life balance. Fewer (17%) say they want more work-life balance. This positive outcome suggests an industry that is focused on prioritizing employee well-being. 

NDC and the Business Travel Industry: Knowledge and Implementation Gaps Continue 

  • Buyers Continue to Seek Clarity as Airlines Seek to Advance NDC 
    Travel buyer responses reflect that the needle hasn’t moved much over the past six months in key NDC areas such education, clarity and speed of implementation, with results only deviating a few percentage points versus results from GBTA’s October 2023 poll. In the April poll, most buyers acknowledge a continued need for information and education about NDC (71%; same as in the October poll). A significant portion (45%) are still unsure if their travel management company (TMC) is fully prepared (similar to 46% in October). 
  • Airlines in the Fast Lane, But Are Buyers and Budgets Keeping Up?  
    While nearly half (42%; compared to 45% in the October poll) of buyers feel airlines are rushing NDC implementation, a third (37%; versus 36% in the October poll) believe intermediaries should be ready to service NDC bookings. Interestingly, this sentiment diverges geographically. North American buyers (49%) are more concerned about airlines’ pace compared to Europeans (29%). Conversely, Europeans (52%) are more likely to believe intermediaries should adapt faster than North Americans (30%). 
    Half (51%) of buyers say they have not started to implement NDC (versus 50% in the October 2023 poll). Only one in ten (10%; same as October poll) report their program has implemented it with few (if any) problems while one-quarter (23%; 22% in October poll) say they have started to implement NDC but have had some problems doing so.   
    Adding another layer of complexity, 60% of buyers haven’t budgeted for potential additional servicing costs associated with NDC bookings and have no plans to do so. Only 5% have allocated a budget for these potential costs. 
  • Suppliers Face Challenges Distributing NDC Content 
    The survey also sheds light on supplier experiences. While 38% report a smooth or mostly smooth rollout of NDC content distribution, a significant portion (36%) encountered challenges. This suggests airlines may need to streamline their NDC content delivery processes. 

Methodology: 815 responses were received from travel buyers, suppliers and other industry professionals across North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific for the poll fielded April 8-24, 2024.  

View the complete 34th GBTA poll results and key highlights here, along with the full series of GBTA Business Travel Industry Outlook polls.