The very last Business travel tracking finds that US companies are increasingly easing pandemic-era restrictions on business travel amid high inflation and a looming recession.
Many companies have cut budgets for business travel during the pandemic, but less than half of companies (42%) still have policies in place that limit business travel – up from 50% in Q2.
Businesses have shown a willingness to get back on the road: According to the survey, 78% of business travelers expect to make at least one trip to attend conferences, conventions or trade shows. And 75% of respondents expect to visit customers, suppliers or other stakeholders in the next six months.
But according to forecasts of the US Travel Association, the growth of business travel cannot be sustained in the long term, which will lead to a decline in the coming quarters.
In addition to the Business Travel Index, two separate surveys of corporate executives and business travelers make up the Quarterly Business Travel Tracker, a product of the American Travel Association, JD Powerand the economics of tourism.
The new survey data comes as economists in the US and around the world are sounding the alarm about a worsening economic situation. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon warned of “very, very serious” headwinds — including inflation, rising interest rates and prolonged war in Ukraine — is likely to push the US into recession in the next six to nine months.
With many economists and business leaders expecting a mild recession in 2023, companies may be looking for ways to limit travel investment and spending, delaying a full recovery in business travel activity, as reflected in the forward-looking Business Travel Index.
Amid this slowdown, some federal policies could help offset these headwinds and spur a recovery in business travel. The US Travel Association is urging Congress to support temporary tax provisions that would encourage companies to recover business travel expenses, especially expenses that support food and entertainment workers.
In addition, the US State Department should take steps to reduce visitor visa interview wait times to facilitate more international business travel, which has reached an average of more than 440 days in top source markets.
“Business travel is slowly returning, and these policies will be critical to keeping employees on the road and helping companies still recovering weather the coming recession,” said Jeff Freeman, president and CEO of the US Travel Association.