Business Travel Trends to Watch in 2024

19 Apr 2024

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the business travel industry has shown remarkable resilience, experiencing reasonable growth. In 2022, the global business travel market generated a substantial $901.51 billion in revenue and is projected to reach an impressive $2,518.61 billion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 10.82%. Regional features fuel this growth. Here are the most promising trends to watch in the Middle East and India: bleisure, a growing focus on sustainability, and the adoption of innovative technologies

Demand for Face-to-Face Meetings Drives Growth

A recent report predicts business travel spending will surge to $1.8 trillion by 2027, surpassing pre-pandemic levels. This resurgence signifies a fundamental shift: Companies are rediscovering the irreplaceable value of in-person interaction for building trust, fostering creativity, and closing deals.

This trend is stimulated by rapid expansion into emerging Asian and African markets, where building strong relationships is crucial. For instance, India's business travel spending is set to reach $38 billion this year, with a projected full recovery to pre-2019 levels by 2025. Another driver is economic growth in the MENA countries. This region's airlines are strategically increasing connectivity and opening new routes. Notably, KSA's new airline, Riyadh Air, represents a significant investment in connecting the area with UAE and India, thanks to the country's booming construction sector.

Tumodo's internal data shows a surge in business travel, with a significant increase in corporate travel during Q4 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. October and November saw record activity, further solidifying the return of face-to-face interactions as a cornerstone of business success.

Bleisure Travel is Booming

Bleisure travel, the trend of combining business and leisure activities, is rising globally after the COVID-19 pandemic, with India being one of the leading four destinations. The growth is primarily driven by a younger workforce (under 35) seeking enriching experiences. Looking deeper, IT companies are leading the pack, with 25% of employees extending business trips, followed by finance and manufacturing.

Similarly, Tumodo’s internal study showed that over 30% of business travelers attending the Qatar Web Summit extended their stay for sightseeing. Similar trends were observed in Dubai and Riyadh, with nearly half of conference attendees opting for a leisure extension. Consequently, weekend-ending business trips are prime opportunities for bleisure travel that boost employee satisfaction at a minimal cost for employers, offering a win-win situation.

Sustainability Focus

The sustainability movement is gaining momentum, and we can expect businesses to increasingly prioritize eco-friendly travel options like carbon-offsetting flights through airline programs, eco-friendly hotels known for their energy-saving measures, and local sourcing initiatives.

Integrating green transportation options will also be a game-changer for the industry. For example, travel technology platforms can use data to recommend flights with lower emissions and highlight eco-friendly alternatives like high-speed rail or electric vehicles. This will empower travelers to make conscious choices and incentivize airlines to invest in sustainable solutions.

While Tumodo’s data predict a potential rise in airline prices (3-7%) in the MENA and Indian regions due to sustainability and fuel price issues, these costs might even out in the long run as airlines adopt more fuel-efficient technologies. Ultimately, prioritizing sustainable travel benefits both businesses, by reducing their environmental footprint, and travelers, who can enjoy a guilt-free travel experience.

Rise of Tech in Business Travel

The business travel landscape is undergoing a digital revolution, with technology transforming every aspect of corporate trips, from booking flights and hotels to streamlining expenses and enhancing the travel experience. Data science and AI-powered platforms like Tumodo enable businesses to optimize travel budgets by 35% on average. Venue-sourcing platforms streamline location scouting for meetings and events, saving time and resources, while virtual and augmented reality foster innovation in training and site visits, reducing travel costs and increasing accessibility.

This tech boom is fueled by large-scale infrastructure projects in the Middle East, such as smart cities and advanced transportation networks. It will create new opportunities for Indian companies in construction, engineering, and related sectors, driving a surge in business travel for project participation.

The future of business travel in the MENA and Indian regions is bright.  Travel companies that adapt their offerings to cater to the evolving needs of business travelers, such as bleisure packages and sustainable travel options, will be well-positioned to thrive in this dynamic market.