Trends in Group and Individual U.S. Business Travel

2016 is off to a slow start for business travel for both group and individual business travel according to GBTA’s BTI Outlook – United States 2016 Q1, which was recently released and sponsored by Visa. The study found there was paltry growth for individual business travel volume, which grew 0.3 percent in 2015 and actually declined by 0.2 percent in the last quarter of 2015 on a year-over-year basis.

The individual business travel segment is projected to grow modestly by 2 percent overall for 2016, however, and will grow by 3 percent in 2017, which is projected to be a much more robust year for business travel growth overall.

Group business travel volume grew a slim 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 on a year-over-year basis. In total, there were 182 million person-trips taken for group purposes in 2015. This includes conventions, congresses, trade shows, incentive meetings and other group meeting activity. The growth in volume for group business travel has only grown by 0.2 percent in 2014 and 0.7 percent in 2015 after a breakout 8.6 percent in 2013. We expect group volume growth will start to turn around with an increase of 2.4 percent this year before accelerating to 2.7 percent in 2017.

US Group and Individual Travel

Unlike trip volume, spending on group business travel performed well in 2014, growing 6.1 percent as the average amount spent per group business trip grew to $700. This trend reversed in 2015, however, as trip budgets tightened and travel prices flattened. Total spending on group business travel was flat in 2015 at $126.4 billion USD. Spending is set to grow 0.3 percent this year and a much more robust 5.9 percent in 2017.

Spending on group and individual business travel offered split results. Spending on group business travel was flat in 2015 after increasing by 6.1 percent in 2014 whereas spending on individual business travel grew by 5.1 percent in 2015.

Like the business travel industry overall, both group and individual travelers will continue to be fairly constrained due to global uncertainty leading to tighter budgets in 2016, but brighter skies are projected for 2017 when the industry overall is expected to grow at a much more significant rate.