Meeting Mentor Magazine

May 2024

Business Travel Upswing Equals Good News for Events

Business travel is trending up in 2024, which means more companies are realizing the value of in-person meetings for getting business done.

Business travel continues to be on the upswing this year as Zoom fatigue continues to grow. In fact, according to the Global Rescue Winter Traveler Sentiment and Safety survey, 37% more respondents said they’re traveling for business this year than in 2023, and more than two-thirds are traveling both domestically and internationally. This is all good news for meeting and event organizers.

“In-person meetings are more effective at establishing and maintaining relationships. It’s no surprise that work-related travel is rising,” said Dan Richards, CEO of The Global Rescue Companies, the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services.

And, while video conferencing and virtual meetings are still good for one-on-one conversations that would be costly to do face to face, the value of traveling for business meetings and events appears to be holding steady: More than half of respondents said virtual meetings aren’t a significant replacement for in-person business travel. “The days of traveling long distances for one meeting with one person could be gone forever, but people will travel for business at scale into perpetuity,” Richards said.

These findings are bolstered by The Global Business Travel Association’s annual report and forecast released last summer, which found that a full 82% of respondents said business travel is either very or moderately worthwhile when it comes to achieving business objectives. Which may explain why GBTA also predicted that global business travel spend would surpass 2019 levels this year, and why nine out of 10 respondents to a Mastercard survey of travel decision-makers said business travel is still critical for driving growth.

However, costs related to business travel are still soaring almost as high as demand, as are hotel rates, which are up an average of 3.6%. Per-attendee costs to attend the meeting also are up, as planners know all too well.

AI to the Rescue?

Could artificial intelligence (AI) bots help companies maximize value per dollar spent on business travel to help lessen the cost load? It’s already happening on the consumer side, where virtual travel agents are customizing itineraries and locking in low fares, so it could well happen on the business travel side too. According to the Mastercard survey, nine out of 10 travel decision-makers plan to invest in AI to streamline processes and customize travel to individual employee needs.

Could AI also help companies reach their sustainability goals when it comes to business travel? That’s still a murky area, but expect more scrutiny of business travel-related sustainability moving forward. According to the Mastercard survey, reducing their carbon footprint — including greenhouse gas emissions from corporate travel — is top of mind for nine out of 10 travel decision-makers.

Even if AI doesn’t become a force for change, venues and event organizers both are hard at work to reduce air-travel–related carbon emissions. For example, the IMEX Group is tracking the carbon footprint and the results of its sustainability efforts at its annual IMEX Frankfurt meeting, as are other show organizers, including Cisco Live, which like the IMEX Group partners with MeetGreen to audit its sustainability efforts. One venue that’s stepping up is the Colorado Convention Center, which offers an Event Attendee GHG Emissions Calculator organizers can use to track the carbon footprint of attending a trade show — and how to both reduce emissions and offset them with carbon credits.

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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