Despite current geopolitical turbulence, spending on business travel increased in 2016, and growth for 2017 is estimated at 2.5%. 

 

The American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) survey – an annual European barometer of spending featuring around a thousand companies across 11 countries – has estimated that growth in business travel spending in 2017 will be at 2.5%. This figure is up from just 1% in 2016, and comes despite downbeat sentiment and geopolitical turbulence.

Italy leading the way

In terms of business travel, certain geographical areas are more dynamic than others. Europe continues to be the region which generates the highest spending according to the study, ahead of North America.

Within the old continent, Italy is leading the way with a 4.6% increase in spending (although this came on the back of a very disappointing prior year), followed by the United Kingdom (+2.8%), which was affected by the Brexit decision several months back, Benelux (2.4%) and Spain (+2.2%). France (+ 0.4%) and Germany (+0.3%) meanwhile are very much the laggards as far as Europe is concerned.

Business trips still seen as a "catalyst"

The recently published study also revealed the main concerns that companies have when it comes to spending on travel. Cost-optimisation remains a key element, with over half of businesses believing that this aspect can be further improved by a stricter spending framework. Direct costs are the first target, followed by better overall organisation, including the use of videoconferencing which is becoming more widespread, as "external travel is seen as more of an investment, either to strengthen existing markets or open up new ones", explained French economic trade daily Les Echos.

The comfort of the travellers is also a priority to improve their performance one they arrive, as is their security (more so than in 2015). Commercial travel remains a determining factor in company policy, as according to Guillaume Col, CEO France, Benelux and Southern Europe for Amex GBT, it is "seen as a catalyst for business, and thus requires optimum planning and management".

 

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