Last updated: 01:50 AM ET, Mon October 29 2012

GBTA Report Predicts Steady Growth for Business Travel in 2012

Features & Advice | Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) | Kate Rice | January 10, 2012

Business travel wound up the year stronger than expected, according to the latest Business Travel Quarterly Outlook -- United States produced by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and sponsored by Visa. The report also predicted that business travel growth will continue through 2012.

The year’s person-trip volume was up 3.1 percent in the third quarter and total business travel spending was up 8.3 percent. Person-trip volume for 2011 is projected to hit 446.5 million and total spending on business travel will reach $251.9 billion in 2011, up 2.1 percent and 7.6 percent, respectively.

Growth should continue this year at a measured pace because of the uncertain economy. The GBTA forecasts that business travel spend will increase by 4.6 percent in 2012 on a slight (0.8 percent) decline in person-trips.

“Although the economic recovery is still modest, we see business travel remaining healthy and growing at a steady rate that outpaces GDP growth,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO. “We'd like to see these record corporate profits trickle down through the rest of the economy, but as the European economy teeters on the brink, corporations remain cautious. But because business travel drives corporate growth, we should expect road warriors to remain busy in 2012.”

GBTA predicts U.S. business travel price inflation to be 2.2 percent in 2012, compared to price inflation of 4.3 percent for 2011. Lower levels of travel demand and lower fuel prices will be the leading causes of this improvement.

The GBTA Business Travel Index (GBTA BTI) for the third quarter of 2011 reached 117, just slightly higher than previously projected, and is expected to grow at the same pace for the first quarter of 2012 to reach 119. 2011 is likely to wrap up as a comeback year for business travel as corporations were resolute about increasing their investment in travel.

Looking farther out, the GBTA BTI has been revised to climb at a slow and steady pace as the global economy continues to struggle, with a forecast of hitting the pre-recession high of 120 by the second quarter of 2012.

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