The global economy is currently confronted with considerable uncertainty factors, but the importance of business travel still seems to be increasing.
The number of business trips, and the cost of those trips, is set to rise in 2019, according to the 14th annual International Travel Management Study (22 October 2018) from AirPlus International. Almost half (45 percent) of the 777 corporate travel managers surveyed by AirPlus in 24 countries expect their company to travel more in the year ahead. That figure is up from 35 percent in 2018 and the highest since the global financial crisis of the late 2000s.
Only 10 percent of travel managers believe their company will travel less, while 44 percent expect no change. India is the country where the highest number of travel managers (83 percent) forecast more trips in 2019. In contrast, 33 percent of Russian travel managers, more than any other country, predict less travel.
Travel managers are economic optimists
Almost half (46 percent) of travel managers expect the global economy to affect business travel positively in 2019. That is well up on last year (27 percent) and the highest figure in the six years the study has asked this question. Only 16 percent of travel managers expect the economy to affect business travel negatively, down from 20 percent in 2018.
The optimism among travel managers may seem surprising given several risks threatening to slow the global economy in 2019, including Brexit, slower growth in the Chinese economy and international trade disputes. But at time of writing the International Monetary Funds 2019 forecast is for global GDP growth of 3.5 percent (slower than 2018 but still a relatively high figure), and business travel volume and GDP have long been shown to correlate.
Expect business travel to cost more in 2019
The almost inevitable consequence of more travel is more cost, and sure enough 51 percent of travel managers expect their company to increase its travel spend in 2019 up from 41 percent in 2018.
Our travel managers prediction of increased corporate travel highlights the importance that business travel has gained over the years. Regardless of any possibly positive or negative effects of the global economy, travel managers consider business travel to be necessary and essential in order to gain new business and meet corporate challenges, says AirPlus Marketing Director Yaël Klein. But more travel also means companies need to pay increased attention to controlling their rising spend. Luckily, there are many excellent tools and techniques to help track and manage travel spend. 2019 is definitely the year to put these good travel management practices in place, or review them if you already have a strong managed program.
Action points recommended by AirPlus to control budgets include:
- Make sure you have a good corporate payment solution providing the best possible travel spend data.
- Review your policy to identify fresh potential savings.
- Re-visit your supplier deals. If you have more spend, you also have more spending power.
- Communicate. Tell your travelers that costs are increasing and keep them focused on spending wisely.