Did anything surprise you about the travel sector’s performance in 2015?
Business-travel spend continues to go up, but the weakened global economy and the plunge in oil prices have caused that growth rate to slow. International outbound (IOB) travel has been the most prominent driver of the recovery since 2009, but this year, while volume is increasing by over 5 percent, spending on IOB travel is being slashed by more than 50 percent from 2014. While businesses continue to see business travel as an investment to grow their business and, in turn, the economy, uncertainty and risk abroad have led to more cautious spending. [pullquote class=”pullleft”]The next five BRIC countries are Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, and Turkey[/pullquote]
What sort of performance can we expect from the travel sector in 2016?
Despite the weakened global economy, we still expect business travel to grow in 2016 — in the U.S., GBTA projects a 3-percent increase in trip volume and business-travel spending, to exceed $300 billion for the first time ever. Our 2016 global travel price outlook reveals airline prices will be nearly flat with the exception of several global hotspots; hotel prices will go up as demand overtakes supply in every major global region; car-rental pricing will continue to face pressure, remaining stagnant; and meetings and events will see modest increases in cost per attendee per day, as well as group sizes.
What is one trend in travel that meeting professionals should be keeping an eye on in 2016 and beyond?
Revised figures in our most recent U.S. business-travel forecast showed that group-travel spending exceeded spending on individual business travel in 2014 for the first time since we started tracking business-travel activity in 2008. Group-travel spending was expected to increase 3.2 percent in 2015, and will grow another 2.7 percent next year. Meeting professionals can capitalize on this increased demand for group travel now, as companies often plan to attend or hold group meetings far in advance.
Looking further down the road, meeting professionals should keep an eye out for business-travel markets of the future. In our annual global-business-travel forecast, GBTA identified five newly emerging markets often overlooked because they aren’t as large as the traditional powers or the BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India, China] markets. Their rapid growth puts them in a position to become business-travel markets of the future: Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, and Turkey.