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International corporate travel falling amid ‘economic uncertainty’, research shows

International corporate travel falling amid 'economic uncertainty', research shows
International business trips declined by 19 per cent in the first quarter of 2024 compared year on year to 2023 (Image credit: Adobe Stock)

International corporate travel has declined while domestic trips are on the rise, year on year figures for the first quarter of 2024 have shown.

Research by HotelHub has revealed “an uncertain business travel environment” driven by persistent inflationary measures after the company analysed more than 15 million hotel bookings from the first quarter of 2024.

Year on year, compared to the first quarter of 2023, international business trips have declined by 19 per cent, while domestic bookings now account for 62 per cent of all trips – up from the 52 per cent for the same period last year.

The decline in international travel noted last quarter marks a stark break with the gradual recovery of overseas business travel post-Covid, HotelHub’s research found – a move which suggests companies remain cautious in an uncertain economic environment.

Compared to the first quarter of 2023, Asia has seen a growth in domestic business travel of 46 per cent, while Europe and North America have seen increases of 30 per cent and 81 per cent, respectively.

According to HotelHub, companies are now likely dispatching staff based within a country rather than allocating budget for more expensive international trips – figures from the first three months of 2024 suggest.

Paul Raymond, director of business development at HotelHub, said: “On the whole, business travel is still growing but there are some concerning trends in this data.

“A reduction in international trips is often an indicator of overall business confidence and broader spending in the corporate sector.

“The rate of inflation may be falling in some areas of the economy, but in hospitality we’re still seeing significant price increases that many corporate travel departments are finding challenging.”

Inflation is still very apparent in the travel industry, HotelHub stated.

Its new report shows the average room rate per night continues to rise, having grown 8 per cent year on year between 2023 and 2024 from an average of $164 to $177 per night.

Further, in just two years average rates have increased 12 per cent in New York, 22 per cent in London and 27 per cent in Paris.

There are also signs that business travellers are condensing trips to stay within budget as the average cost of a trip has increased by 7 per cent from $414 to $442 over the same year on year period.

In Asia, the average duration of a stay has decreased by 8 per cent, while in the Middle East and Africa it has fallen by 11 per cent.

Despite this trend, the average international length of stay has increased by 5.3 per cent, indicating that while international travel is less frequent, business travellers are extending trips to accomplish more when they do fly, according to HotelHub.