A business travel and entertainment survey by US American Express India with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) shows that the majority of Indian businesses, almost 67 pc expect a rise in business travel in 2023 and that 77 pc of businesses are expecting to increase their travel budget in 2023, as compared to 2022. These findings were published in a report titled Revival of business travel: An India perspective.
“The sentiment is upbeat for corporate travel in India. While the past two years resulted in a temporary decline in business travel, domestic travel has resumed, and almost surpassed pre-pandemic level. International travel is also picking up and we can expect a sustained recovery. With increased average ticket prices expected to remain high in the medium term, Indian companies will be exploring technologies, and should adopt smarter solutions for better cost efficiencies,” says Manish Kapoor, Vice President and Head, Global Commercial Services (GCS) of American Express Banking Corp, India.
According to a press statement, current and future business travel trends included 53 pc of businesses saying that just over half of their employees had taken an international or domestic work trip in H2 2022. Government and public sector employees followed by marketing, sales, real estate, professional services, and pharmaceuticals lead trips. As many as 64 pc of government or public sector employees took international or domestic trips for work. One of the reasons preventing a full bounce-back of business travel is that more meetings and events are now being conducted virtually, the statement added.
The statement adds that the top reason for business travel, selected by 41 pc of businesses, was attending, hosting or presenting at conferences, presentations or events. For 50 pc of respondents, Mumbai was the most visited city for domestic business trips, while internationally, the United States, for 44 pc of respondents, emerged as the most popular destination.
Around 77 pc of businesses are expected to increase their travel budget in 2023. Agriculture, manufacturing, construction, utilities and engineering topped the list with largest travel budgets on average, at INR 7 million per year for each business, says the survey.
In terms of technology, 79 pc of Indian surveyed businesses said they use business travel data analytics to assist with travel booking and expenditure, showing how important technology has become for the travel sector. Three quarters also said they use travel management software. As with the broader technology sector, the travel technology sector is constantly innovating. In the post-pandemic period, 43 pc of financial decision makers surveyed said that the use of better software to manage expenses and travel is a key innovation.
The report further adds that 92 pc businesses have a travel policy with a further 6 pc in process of making a travel policy. The survey says that 46 pc businesses selected cost limits for bookings, including hotels, airfares and ground transportation as the topmost component when asked about what is included in their travel policy. About 43 pc of financial decision makers also selected that they consider special exceptions or rules for more expensive cities in their policy document, while 43 pc also selected that routes and approval processes for trips that exceed typical limitations are included. Environmental sustainability considerations were also selected by over a third, or 36 pc of respondents, highlighting that this is an increasingly important topic.
The survey report was conducted amongst over 500 Indian businesses across cities in India. It focusses on larger businesses, with half of the respondents seeing annual revenues greater than INR 6 billion and 82 pc of businesses in the survey report have 250 employees or more, says the press statement.