Stat: 2016 Business Travel Growth Falls to 3.7 Percent

The GBTA Foundation has released the GBTA BTI Outlook – United States 2015 Q3, which shows that 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 three key factors: 

1. U.S. companies are becoming far more selective in authorizing business travel abroad as a result of global economic uncertainty and risk. While the GBTA expects 5.4 percent growth in international outbound business travel volume this year, spending growth rates will be slashed by more than 50 percent from 2014 (from 8.6 to 3.4 percent).

2. Inflation in the business travel sector will be nearly flat (0.5 percent) in 2015 and modest (3.0 percent) in 2016, primarily due to the collapse of global oil prices. While the volume of U.S. originated trips will increase 0.7 percent from 495.8 million in 2014 to 499.2 million in 2015 and 514.8 million in 2016, the total growth rate for spend is actually down. This is especially true in two areas – air travel spending will decrease by 3.4 percent in 2015, and ground transportation spending will decrease by 7.7 percent.

3. Actual (as opposed to projected) business travel figures, which were revised to indicate higher trip numbers and lower spending figures for 2014.

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.


However, the benefit and savings from these lower fares is likely to be negated by increasing ancillary fees. During this same time period there has been an almost steady year-over-year increase in airline revenues from these extra fees.


Additional Business Travel Data

  Previous Outlook 2015 Q3 Outlook
  2015 2016 2015* 2016
U.S.-originated trips (in millions) $488.1 $502.8 $499.2 $514.8
Y/Y percent 1.0% 3.0% 0.7% 3.1%
U.S.-originated spending (in billions) $302.7 $318.9 $292.1 #303.1
Business Travel Inflation 1.7% 4.2% 0.5% 3.0%

* includes impact of annual revision to 2014 figures

Individual Travel vs. Group - Revised figures indicate that group business travel significantly outperformed individual business travel for the second year in a row, as spending grew 7.1 percent in 2013 and another 6.1 percent in 2014. In 2014, spending on group business travel ($126.5 billion) exceeded spending on individual business travel for the first time since we started tracking business travel activity in 2008. The BTI Outlook predicts that group trip volume will grow 0.5 percent this year and another 3.3 percent in 2016. Spending on group business travel is expected to grow 3.2 percent and 2.7 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Individual volume soared in 2014, growing 6.7 percent, but total spending on individual trips actually fell 0.3 percent over the period as many overnight business trips were displaced by day trips. The GBTA said it expects this trend to reverse somewhat in 2015 as volume grows 0.6 percent and spending grows 2.8 percent. In 2016, individual volume is projected to grow another 3.1 percent to 319.3 million trips and spending is projected to grow 4.3 percent to $130.2 billion.

The GBTA also said the continued declines in oil prices have led the organization to lower its expectations for price increases in key business travel categories like ground transportation, rental cars and airfare. Lower energy prices coupled with relatively weak economic growth will keep travel price inflation in check through the end of the year. The GBTA expects its business trip-weighted Travel Price Index (TPI) to grow only 0.5 percent in 2015 before accelerating 3 percent in 2016.

Source: GBTA BTI Outlook