How business travel is bouncing back after Covid

After a couple of years’ enforced hiatus, business travel is back in a big way. But how have budgets changed since Covid?

Unlike leisure travel, which soon bounced back from all the international restrictions amid a huge wave of post-Covid holidays, business travel is taking a little longer to return to pre-pandemic levels. After all, there’s now a range of new factors to consider when weighing up a business trip, from the risk of infection and the individual’s willingness to board a flight, to the level of client interest in meeting in person, the value of attending any given event, or even whether a simple Zoom call could remove the need to travel.

Even so, and despite rising ticket prices pushing up the overall cost of business travel, companies do seem keen to allocate money to business travel, as can be seen in the results of this survey by Deloitte.

The steady increase in expected spend indicates a solid and rising interest in travelling for business over the next year or so. This puts business travel on track to reach and surpass its pre-pandemic levels by mid-2025 at the latest. 

So, what’s getting businesses travelling again?

The survey results show that attending major live events such as industry conferences is one of the main driving forces behind the return of business travel. After all, not only are these events a chance to network and socialise after a couple of years away, they can also be a valuable source of business opportunities.

However, not everyone is necessarily grasping these opportunities in quite the same way. While enthusiasm is strong across the board, American firms, for instance, seem to be more inclined to hold back a little for now, before diving into business travel in earnest next year.

This caution among American businesses is also reflected in the way they have allocated their travel budgets for this year, prioritising a domestic focus initially.

That said, no business is immune to rising prices right now, and a number of factors are combining to put pressure on travel budgets. Sustainability concerns and the need for last-minute or flexible booking options are both significant considerations post-Covid, and businesses will need to keep a tight grip on the purse strings if they are to achieve a return to relatively cost-effective travel.