Corporate travel spending in the US and Europe is projected to surpass half of 2019 levels in the first half of 2023, and two-thirds by the end of the year, according to the latest corporate travel report, “Navigating Toward a New Normal,” from Deloitte.

While full recovery to 2019 spending volume appears likely by late 2024 or early 2025, adjusting for lost growth and inflation indicates that in real terms, corporate travel will likely be smaller than it was prior to the pandemic.
Other key findings include:

• International trips continue to grow, as challenges decline for visiting parts of the world. US respondents expect international’s share of travel costs to jump from 21% in 2022 to 33% in 2023. European respondents expect 32% of 2023 spending to go to international trips within the continent, and 28% beyond.

• Live-event attendance appears poised to be a big growth driver, leapfrogging from the fifth biggest trigger for increased spending in 2022 to the top spot in 2023. More than half of travel managers in both the US and Europe expect industry events to spur travel growth this year.

• Many supplier contracts were frozen for two years or longer during the pandemic and began to be renegotiated in 2022. As buyers return to the negotiating table with lower expected trip volume, some report that some suppliers are pushing for higher rates. Hospitality providers are reportedly taking a stronger approach than airlines, and European suppliers are pushing harder than American ones.

• Climate concerns will likely put a cap on corporate travel gains for several years to come. Four in 10 European companies and a third of US companies say they need to reduce travel per employee by more than 20% to meet their 2030 sustainability targets.

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The report draws on a survey of 334 travel managers, executives with various titles and travel-budget oversight, fielded from Feb. 7 to 23, 2023. The survey reached 106 US-based respondents and 228 European respondents based in the UK (56), Germany (57), Spain (59) and France (56).