GBTA’s recently released quarterly U.S. business travel forecast, GBTA BTI™ Outlook – United States, showed the growth rate for business travel spending in the country is slowing. The study also looked into both group and individual business travel.
Individual business travel soared in 2014, growing 6.7 percent, but total spending fell 0.3 percent over the same period. This is likely because many overnight trips were displaced by day trips. Our forecast shows this trend will reverse somewhat this year with volume growing slightly (0.6 percent) and spending increasing 2.8 percent. Both volume and spending will continue to increase in 2016, growing 3.1 percent and 4.3 percent respectively.
Our outlook revealed that group business travel significantly outperformed individual travel for the second year in a row with spending growing 7.1 percent in 2013 and another 6.1 percent in 2014. More notably, spending on group business travel exceeded spending on individual business travel for the first time since we began tracking this activity in 2008.
It is no surprise that individual travel recovered much more quickly than group business travel following the Great Recession – group travel takes more long-term planning and higher levels of group travel generally indicate more optimism in the economy. It’s clear now that group travel has been resurgent over the last two years though and is now the healthiest segment of business travel activity.
Average spend per group business trip is also on the rise. Beginning at $553 per trip in 2008, spend grew steadily each year until hitting a speed bump in 2013 and dropping down to $660 from $669 the previous year. In 2014, spending got back on track hitting nearly $700 and we expect it to hit $718 spent per group trip in 2015.
Overall spending on group business travel will continue to exceed spending on individual business travel this year and next.
Stay tuned for another post from our latest U.S. business travel forecast that focuses on international outbound travel.