Now that the holidays are over and January is well underway, it’s time to look at what happened in 2012 and what is being anticipated for 2013. We’re starting to receive year-end data so I’ll share some from the Global Business Travel Association.

Business travel spending growth slowed through the tail end of 2012 as companies postponed critical investment decisions until after the U.S. presidential election and Congressional debate on the fiscal cliff. The good news is that spending grew 1.6% to $254.9 billion in 2012. However, there was a -1.9% decline in trip volume to 436.5 million person-trips, which means the spending increase was mainly due to rising travel costs. 

The business travel forecast for 2013 is more robust, provided there is continued easing of economic and political uncertainty. According to the GBTA BTI™ Outlook - United States report (, U.S. business travel spending is expected to rise 4.6% in 2013 to $266.7 billion, on a slight -1.1% decline in trip volume to 431.8 million person-trips for the year. Spending growth in 2013 should begin modestly at 2 to 3% in the first two quarters, and then pick up the pace with rates of 6.4% in Q3 and 7.2% in Q4. 

The key factors in 2013 business travel spending growth include the following:

  • International outbound travel spending projected to rise 5.9%;
  • Group travel spending projected to rise 5.2%; and
  • Very modest price inflation, indicating that companies will be spending more real dollars on business trips.

"The projections that we see for both international and group travel are encouraging," says Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO.  "Businesses will be looking to capitalize on growth opportunities abroad and spend more on in-person meetings and events as well. By nature, meetings are longer-lead investments that require greater confidence in the future."

Here’s to hoping (okay, maybe praying!) that 2013 delivers.

Beth Buehler
Colorado Meetings + Events

Photo Caption:
Local Table Tours in Boulder is a good way to spend business travel dollars. Watch for our Spring 2013 issue, which will feature a destination article about Boulder. Photo courtesy of Local Table Tours.

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