With business travel across domestic and international markets showing a rebound after the pandemic, a majority of Indian businesses (67 per cent) expect a rise in business travel in 2023 and 77 per cent of businesses are expecting to increase their travel budget in 2023 as compared to 2022, according to a survey by American Express, along with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).
According to the survey report titled ‘Revival of Business Travel: An India Perspective’ commissioned by American Express India, about 79 per cent of Indian businesses surveyed use business travel data analytics to assist with travel booking and expenditure, showing how important technology has become for the travel sector.
The survey was conducted among over 500 Indian businesses across cities in India. It focusses on larger businesses, with half of the respondents seeing annual revenues greater than Rs 600 crore. About 82 per cent of businesses in the survey report have 250 employees or more.
“As with the broader technology sector, the travel technology sector is constantly innovating. In the post-pandemic period, 43 per cent of financial decision makers surveyed said that the use of better software to manage expenses and travel is a key innovation,” the survey report said.
Manish Kapoor, vice-president and head (global commercial services) of American Express Banking Corp India, said, “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.”
Kapoor added that 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.
In terms of the practical methods used to pay for travel expenses, the most common way, used by two-thirds of companies (66 per cent), is that the business has company accounts with third party booking systems, according to report.
Most businesses reported using multiple methods, with 61 per cent saying they let employees pay and expense, and 57 per cent saying they provide employees with access to a company credit card.
According to the survey, a total of 53 per cent of businesses said that just over half of their employees had taken an international or domestic work trip in H2 2022.
The government/ public sector employees followed by marketing, sales, real estate, professional services, and pharmaceuticals lead trips. 64 per cent 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.
According to report, the top reason for business travel, selected by 41 per cent of businesses, was attending, hosting or presenting at conferences, presentations or events. Mumbai was the most visited city for domestic business trips (50 per cent of respondents), while internationally, US (44 per cent of respondents) emerged as the most popular destination.
The report said nearly 77 per cent of businesses expected to increase their travel budget in 2023. Agriculture, manufacturing, construction, utilities and engineering topped the list with largest travel budgets on average, at Rs 70 lakh per year for each business.
According to the survey report, 79 per cent of Indian business surveyed 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 per cent of financial decision makers surveyed said that that use of better software to manage expenses and travel is a key innovation,” the report said.
According to the report, 92 per cent businesses have a travel policy with a further 6 per cent in process of making a travel policy. 46 per cent 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.
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