The Week in Travel Stats: Mixed Signals for Business Travel

This week a flurry of studies pointed to a slowdown in growth for business travel, but some positive signs for meetings and events.

2016 Business Travel Growth Falls to 3.7 Percent

According to the GBTA Foundation's new GBTA BTI Outlook - United States 2015 Q3, U.S. business travel growth is set to slow in 2015 and 2016. 

According to the GBTA, U.S. business travel spending will increase by 3.1 percent in 2015 and 3.7 percent in 2016, which represents a downward revision from the BTI outlook released in July, when growth was projected to grow at 4.9 percent in 2015 and 5.4 percent in 2016. The revision can be attributed to businesses being more selective in authorizing business travel abroad due to growing economic uncertainty and risk; flat inflation in the business travel sector, primarily due to the collapse in oil prices; and revised business travel figures that show higher trip numbers and lower spending figures for 2014. 

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Additionally, the study finds that the collapse in global oil prices is finally beginning to impact consumers, particularly when it comes to air travel spending. In 2015, the average airfare for a domestic roundtrip is $379, compared to $392 in 2014. American consumers will therefore see a small but significant dividend as a result of lower global oil prices.

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However, the benefit and savings from these lower fares is likely to be negated by increasing ancillary fees.

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Meetings Forecast to Grow Worldwide in 2016

At the same time, the American Express Meetings & Events 2016 Global Meetings Forecast indicated that positive economic trends and the global expansion of companies are set to drive high levels of growth for training and internal meetings. 

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Following a year of added capacity, an increased focus on compliance-related concerns and a growing need to manage risk across all meeting types, meeting owners are predicted to expand their budgets next year. In turn, hotels are expected to increase capacity in key cities, but lead times remain tight, so meeting owners who are able to plan farther ahead have the best chance of securing their first choice property and dates. The 2016 Forecast also provides a look at three key areas of interest among meetings professionals: compliance, incentives and using mobile and social media for events, all of which are expected to continue to shape the meetings industry in 2016. 

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Rates at Resort Meeting Venues Up 2.6 Percent

A report by the International Association of Conference Centres (IACC), Trends in the Conference Center Industry, also showed improved occupancy and rates at IACC's corporate meeting venue operators. 

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"Corporate meeting venues lead the recovery with the highest Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue per Occupied Room (RevPOR)," said IACC CEO Mark Cooper

Last year, IACC members predicted a bumpy ride, business wise, and this proved to be the case with the economy experiencing some setbacks and earlier improved earnings faltering later in the year. This year, all venue types have predicted positive occupancy growth, with corporate venues forecasting the greatest improvements by year-end. Conference Centres with over 200 guest rooms are projecting a growth of 6.5% in annual occupancy over last year.

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London Visitors Up 6 Percent in April and June

General tourism, however, saw some good signs in London this week with the latest edition of the UK's Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey (IPS) showing a new record for London visitation numbers between April and June of this year. The city welcomed 5.1 million international visitors, 6 percent more than the same period last year. 

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Tourist spending over the same period was £3.2 billion, an eight percent increase compared with the second quarter of 2014. Over the past five years (2009-2014), the number of overseas visitors coming to London has risen by 22.5 percent.

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Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for the latest travel industry statistics, trends and research. 

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