Global Business Travel Drops Due To Economic Uncertainty

The Global Business Travel Association says there was a slight drop in business traveler levels, though spending is up due to higher prices.

We already know that global conference attendance is trending downward this year, but is there a root cause for this?

This is an economy in need of some good news to shore up business confidence and encourage more travel.

The Global Business Travel Association may be able to shed some light: According the group, the level of business travel overall is on the decline.

This year, GBTA estimates a total of 438.1 million business trips — a level that’s down by 2 percent from 2011. Spending on business travel is up 2.6 percent, but that’s because it costs more.

The group’s executive director and COO, Michael W. McCormick, suggests that the numbers may forecast long-term trouble for the industry.

“While companies aren’t cutting their business travel spend and we’re still seeing very modest growth,” he said in a press release, “we are cautious about the outlook for the next several quarters. The looming ‘fiscal cliff’ is causing even more uncertainty, which we are monitoring with real concern. This is an economy in need of some good news to shore up business confidence and encourage more travel.”

But could things get better next year? As far as spending goes, yes — the group estimates a 4.9 percent jump in travel expenses next year, to $270 billion — but not as far as attendance. They estimate that traveler counts will fall by another 1.1 percent.

As associations rely on business travel spending to buoy their annual events, how important is it to introduce alternatives, such as teleconferencing, for those who can’t attend in person?

(photo by bradleygee/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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