Business travel industry trends and forecast for 2023 in India
Business travel is a trip taken by employees for business purposes. They embark on it to meet colleagues from other locations, attend business events, meet with clients, or oversee other branches.
In India, business travel has picked up rapidly, after a sharp decline in 2019 due to the pandemic outbreak. It is still expected to grow in the coming years.
Unfettered by online conference and meeting apps like Zoom, business travel has emerged as a norm. Pro-business cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, and Chennai have witnessed higher business bookings in 2022.
It only proves that traditional face-to-face meetings still serve their purpose by breaking the ice and strengthening team bonding.
Indian businesses let their employees travel for business expansion, internal meetings, marketing and sales, product launches, etc. This market is steadily growing, which we can understand from recent years’ stats.
According to the survey conducted by IMARC, business travel industry trends point to a market value of US $31.7 Billion in 2021.
This is predicted to reach US$55.2 Billion in 2027. The major contributors to these numbers are the metro cities of the country. Delhi has seen the highest business bookings, followed by Hyderabad and Bangalore.
Industry-wise, the construction sector has topped business travel with 16% of frequent travelers in 2021. Other sectors with frequent business travelers are the transport industry and clothing, electronics, IT, and healthcare.
International business travel has gained momentum, too, as Indian businesses are rapidly expanding their roots in global markets. We could also notice a surge in Indian business travel agencies.
Businesses are partnering with travel agencies to facilitate bookings and other immigration procedures.
Running a business from a single location while catering to a broader international audience is no longer viable. Gone are the days when businesses had their geographical boundaries marked and served audiences within that.
Customers’ preferences and expectations change from one geopolitical location to another. This forces businesses to bifurcate their operations to become more accessible to them and understand needs from their perspective.
They have to adopt international norms and make more standardized products to beat the widespread competition. Besides, companies want to use tax benefits that other countries offer to create job opportunities in their countries.
These rapid business expansions lead to the formation of diverse and multinational teams that are required to travel back and forth.
The workforce must fly for various reasons, including but not limited to, setting up a team abroad and conducting important meetings there.
Like businesses, investors don’t limit their operations either. Foreign investments are where local businesses gain funds from foreign investors.
Both multinational and individual investors show interest in investing in Indian businesses. To make it possible, management must promote business travel for them to participate in international funding efforts.
If the funding opportunity is confirmed, there must be another series of business travels to meet investors. This is to discuss strategies, present business models, or simply have a face-to-face session with potential investors.
As Indian businesses are so keen on scaling up, the future shines bright for them to have more travel opportunities in 2023 for fundraising purposes.
Bleisure or bizcation are terms that companies use to ingrain the idea of using business trips for leisure purposes.
Unlike what the name suggests, business trips are not always limited to business activities. Employees like to work smartly where they fulfill travel and business goals together.
They go on sightseeing trips or hiking or learn about local culture when they go on work trips. Many extend the trip over the weekend to unwind. Some even take the opportunity to catch up with friends and family in the destination city.
It’s a means by which employees can maintain their work/life balance, or even befriend colleagues outside of work. Even if they are away from home, they have options to relax after a stressful day.
Businesses offer this as a perk to attract young talent and promote business travel among an employee pool that, usually, accomplishes more virtually.
Globalization has opened up many opportunities for small businesses to enter new markets. This has significantly increased in the post-COVID phase. But launching in a new market is equally challenging too.
From setting up a branch to meeting local vendors and facilitators, it requires constant movement of employees to the new location.
That being said, Indian small businesses on the brink of growth and market expansion will surely drive business travel industry trends in 2023.
Inter-organizational and stakeholder meetings have more to offer when they happen physically. Virtual meetings have limitations because employees work in different time zones.
Other pressing concerns include the growing wariness of cyber-related issues and the inability to pick up non-verbal cues. Hence, employers lean towards meetings in traditional ways.
These increase opportunities for executive-level employees to physically travel to partners' and stakeholders' locations for key meetings.
India has become a hub for the outsourcing market. The growth of the IT industry has been tremendous in the last decade, which brings in projects from companies of developed nations.
This collaboration is driven by both online and offline meetings. To support the operations on-site and off-site and kickstart new initiatives, managers and tech experts must travel often.
Thus, outsourcing and IT have always been among the top participants in business travel industry trends.
The hospitality industry has been on a roll this year with improved amenities. They have understood business travel requirements and are ready to offer more than accommodations.
Traveling employees can use the hotels as a hub or even a workplace for weeks. Some amenities that favor Indian working travelers are high-speed internet, lounges for a meet-and-greet, workstations, gyms, and many more.
Employees prefer staying in such spaces as they are very much productivity-inducing. They can get things done and also rest and entertain themselves.
Corporate events can happen for many reasons, from promoting new products to increasing networking opportunities. When they happen physically, they have more scope for communication and move everyone closer to their objectives.
It is the pandemic era that has put conferences on hold for a long time. But the event organization industry is back with more force now, targeting different business segments.
Result? More physical events and conferences with participation from national and international professionals.
Attending a business conference is a part of business travel too. With COVID policies starting to relax and become normalized, the business travel industry trends have opportunities for physical events to thrive.
The main concern for businesses is increasing travel costs. Typically, employees make bookings and get the money reimbursed from their company. If it’s an unplanned trip, they pay a much higher fare that exceeds the expense budget.
To avoid this double work and reduce costs, businesses are partnering with travel agencies and airlines directly. They book tickets and hotel rooms conveniently at any time at preferential rates.
Airlines, too, get more revenue from business customers, which is why they prioritize their partnerships. This is a win-win situation for the travel industry and companies looking for affordable business travel options.
The Global Business Travel Association has released a report on Indian business travel industry trends and their scope and pathway in 2023.
The CEO of GBTA has highlighted the progress of business travel worldwide and predicted that it would soon trace back its old shape of being an industry worth $1.4 trillion.
As every country is slowly opening its borders, business travel will be more relaxed in 2023.
Though COVID-19 concerns are still on the surface in many places, business travel is still peaking in many countries.
Highlights from the GBTA survey:
• Surveyed companies have mentioned that their domestic travel volume has recovered 63% of pre-pandemic values.
• Out of all, 26% of surveyors have highlighted that their company’s international travel volume has crossed 70% higher than their pre-pandemic stage.
• When asked about how COVID-19 might be a reason for not allowing business travel, only 4% responded with a ‘yes.’ 80% of companies have expressed concerns about restricting business travel due to exceeding expenses.
• 78% of participants have expressed higher hopes about recovering and increasing the travel volume in 2023.
The above business travel industry trends and stats prove that business travel is still alive and has more to offer. As a business owner, you must stay on top of these trends and be more open to accepting their benefits.
If work trips are so favorable and feasible, why are there many businesses still stumble with managing them? It’s because they encourage their employees to travel but overlook the expense management area.
Only 32% of small businesses use dedicated expense reporting systems to handle travel claim requests properly. The struggles employees go through to submit bills and receive back money are endless.
If you are willing to offer business travel as a perk to employees, post-claim processing must be chaos-free too. With expense management systems like Volopay, you can automate this process end-to-end.
Your employees can submit a reimbursement claim instantly, even while traveling. Custom approval workflows can pass the request from one approver to another automatically. Within a day or two, the request gets processed, and employees receive the money.
You can even let traveling employees have corporate cards so that they can make bookings on their own, and pay independently for meals and client entertainment.
Your accounting team will have access to a centralized platform from where they can manage these cards and create them unlimited times. Volopay syncs expense transactions automatically with other accounting applications.
To manage your booking right from the payment app, you can use Volopay-Trutrip integration. Trutrip is an all-in-one platform for business travel and booking needs.
Utilize the current trends in business travel sectors by being well-covered with Volopay.