A recent survey conducted by events technology specialist Cvent reveals that approximately two-thirds of travel buyers in Europe’s major markets are optimistic about increased business travel for their organisations in 2023 compared to the previous year. However, these buyers are expressing concerns about the mounting costs associated with such travel.
The survey involved 600 buyers from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands, and was commissioned by Cvent. The findings indicate that 80% of respondents hold a positive outlook on their organisation’s business travel activities. Among these, 64% predict a higher volume of business travel in 2023 compared to the previous year, with 19% considering this increase to be significant.
Furthermore, the survey highlights the strong focus on cost reduction among buyers, with 65% identifying it as their primary concern. This percentage escalates to 73% for respondents from France and the UK. Concerns about inflation in various travel-related expenses, including ground transport costs, are also prevalent, with 30% expecting ground transport costs to experience the highest increase.
To address these rising costs, buyers are implementing diverse strategies to curb spending. The most popular tactic, employed by 40% of respondents, involves merging business travel with existing meetings and events that employees are already slated to attend. Another notable trend is the reduction of colleague travel, with an increasing number of buyers (37%) adopting this approach. This figure rises to 43% for buyers in France. Despite the reduction in travellers, the majority of these buyers still anticipate an overall increase in travel volumes for the year.
Approximately 22% of buyers indicated that while they intend to decrease the number of journeys made by employees, the duration of these trips is tending to be longer. Moreover, 70% of European buyers expect a higher average budget per trip within their organisations. This mirrors the rise in travel costs and the extended duration of average trips.
Graham Pope, Cvent’s Vice President of International Sales, emphasised the desire of corporate travel managers to return their teams to the road while working with hotels that are sensitive to budget constraints. The survey also delved into the priorities of buyers when selecting hotels and meeting venues. Beyond cost, proximity to company locations (37%), flexible terms (35%), ease of accessibility, and venue familiarity (both 26%) emerged as key considerations.
Sustainability is gaining traction as a focus for European buyers, with 26% indicating that an “increased emphasis” on sustainable travel will shape their priorities over the next two years. Additionally, 29% plan to actively seek content and features related to sustainability when sourcing hotels and venues.