Travel managers increasingly expect more business travel trips

Expect more trips – and higher spend

According to the Airplus’ 13thInternational Travel Management Study (ITMS), 35% of travel managers predict increase in business travel trips in 2018, whilst 8% said that trips may decrease. The last time there was as much as a 35% increase expected globally was in 2015.

For this study, the international market research agency 2hm interviewed 870 travel managers and 2,180 business travelers in 24 countries. Interviews were carried out by phone and online.


The percentage of travel managers expecting more trips by their company is up for the second year running. Conversely, only 8% expect less travel – fewer than at any time since 2009.
However, there are signs of less confidence about travel in the USA and Brexit-bound UK. For everyone else though, beware: more trips mean many companies fear their travel costs are set to rise.

Expect to spend more

With businesses expecting to travel more, it’s no surprise that travel managers expect their travel costs to rise too. They are worried most about flight spend increasing, although a small minority is confident of cutting air travel costs. The other major concern is hotel spend, which 36% of travel managers think will rise. Fewer travel managers worry about rising costs for car rental, meetings &
conventions and rail, although in some countries these categories are either little used or managed.

The figures for business travelers are remarkably similar to those for travel managers. However, the global number masks major variations, with fast-emerging economies taking the lead in travel
growth. India has the highest number of travelers expecting more trips, followed by Brazil and China.


European figures are much lower, especially in Belgium, which has the largest number of
travelers predicting trip volumes will fall. Belgium is the only country worldwide where a greater number of travelers expect trips to decrease rather than increase.






Size matters

In spite of their superior purchasing power, companies with high travel spend are the biggest believers that their travel costs will rise over the next 12 months. That compares with 42% of medium spenders and 38% of low spenders. The main reason is that companies with high spend (40%) also have greater expectations of booking more trips than medium (37%) or low (30%) spenders.

Almost twice as many travel managers overall expect to book more meetings and conventions over the next 12 months as those who predict fewer meetings. However, the number expecting meetings growth has dropped from 26% last year.

Expectations of meetings growth range from 26% for high spenders to 23% for medium spenders and only 18% for low spenders.

Bigger spenders shun low-cost carriers

Big spenders concerned about rising costs may wish to reconsider their limited use of low-cost carriers. These charts show that budget airlines account for a much smaller share of the tickets they buy than is the case for medium and low spenders.

However,  additional factors may explain this trend. For example, higher spenders may buy a larger proportion of flights on long-haul routes, very few of which are served by low-cost carriers.

Which countries are going to travel more?

India leads the way
Like their travelers, Indian travel managers (77%) have greater expectations than any other country of increased business trips over the next 12 months. This finding aligns with figures from the Global Business Travel Association, which reports that India has the world’s fastest growing business travel spend.


A change of mood in the USA
The USA has experienced a major shift over the past 12 months. Last year, 71% of American travel managers were forecasting more trips for their company – more than in any other country. This year, that figure has slumped to 43%. Although that is still above the global average, it contrasts starkly with neighbor Canada, where the number of travel managers expecting more trips has climbed steeply from 25% in 2017 to 45% in 2018.

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