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Business travel finished 2013 with stronger than expected growth, helped in part by the largest jump in meeting travel in two years.
A strong investment in international outbound travel, a poorly performing sector over the previous two years, also contributed to the strong 2013 finish, according to the Global Business Travel Association.
The GBTA BTI Outlook - United States 2013 Q4 found that U.S. spending on international outbound travel should jump 12.5 percent in 2014, after just 1.8 percent growth in 2013 and only a .8 percent expansion in 2012. This revival will be helped in particular by steady improvements in the Euro-zone, the U.S.’s largest trading partner.
Overall, U.S. business travel spending is expected to advance 6.6 percent in 2014, while total person-trip volume is expected to increase 1.7 percent to 461 million trips for the year.
At the close of 2013, annual U.S. business travel spending is estimated by GBTA to have grown 3.8 percent, on a slight -.3 percent decline in trip volume to 453.3 million person-trips. Notably, despite the Federal government shutdown in 2013, the private sector delivered a stronger third quarter than expected, which boosted business travel spending.
Tad Fordyce, head of global commercial solutions at Visa, which supported the report, said, “After two years of tepid growth in outbound international business travel, GBTA projects this segment will see double digit growth in 2014 as more U.S. businesses increase travel spending.”
The meetings business has been on an upward swing for the past two years and this trend should continue in 2014. GBTA expects group travel spending to rise by 6.5 percent based on a volume increase of 1.7 percent.
“This is the healthiest growth outlook for meetings activity since 2011,” GBTA execute director Michael W. McCormick said. “Meetings are typically larger investments that require advance planning, and companies only make these decisions when they have confidence in the longer-term outlook for the economy.”