What are the Top Industries for Business Travel?

In the movie Tommy Boy, David Spade and Chris Farley travel across the country on a sales trip to try and save the family auto parts business. Spoiler alert: they are successful – despite all of the hilarious missteps and hijinks that they experience on the road. According to the most recent GBTA BTI Outlook – Annual Global Report and Forecast, wholesale trade accounts for 4.7 percent of the total global business travel market – accounting for close to $57.3 billion USD. While Tommy Boy is just a classic movie comedy, it does demonstrate the value that business travel has to an economy and to a specific industry.

Business travel is a critical input to virtually every industry and business. And some industries use travel much more intensely than others. Food Processing and Services is an enormous and fast growing industry with a high level of business travel intensity that jumped up the Global BTI rankings this year and is now the largest business travel sector in the world with $112.1 Billion USD spent on business travel.

The Utilities sector remains an enormous business travel industry as well with $107.9 billion USD spent on global business travel spending in 2015. The utilities sector will likely continue to grow at a rapid rate despite the headwinds from the emerging market slowdown. Further aiding the growth trend is the fact that utilities are relatively travel intense – so on a per-dollar of sales basis, they require relatively more business travel on average.



Petroleum refining is expected to be the fastest growing business travel sector over the next five years – growing at an impressive 17.8 percent per year on average. This projection is mainly the result of an expected cyclical snapback in the energy sector. Spending in the construction (6.4 percent) and real estate (7.6 percent) sectors will grow relatively quickly over the next five years, but their growth has slowed slightly from last year’s forecast given the headwinds facing emerging markets.

Likewise, while significant business travel spending growth is expected in basic manufacturing and in sectors required to build and support infrastructure growth, the slowdown in emerging markets has tempered expectations for growth in sectors like transportation services (5.9 percent), manufacturing of communications equipment (9 percent), rubber & plastic manufacturing (9.6 percent) and paper & paper products manufacturing (7.6 percent).

Utilities and leasing firms lead the list due to their heightened use of installation, maintenance and customer service-oriented business travel. On the other hand, industries such as construction, banking and oil refining, look to business travel far less as a percentage of their overall business.

Just as global business travel drives overall economic growth, so too do some industries rely more heavily on business travel than others. Regardless of if you are food processing, which leads in business travel, or banking which brings up the rear, every segment of the economy relies on business travel to some extent.