77% of Indian businesses expect to increase travel budget in 2023
New Delhi — Over 65 percent of Indian businesses expect a rise in business travel in 2023 and 77% of businesses are expecting to increase their travel budget in 2023 as compared to last year, ‘Revival of business travel: An India perspective’, a business travel and entertainment (T&E) survey report commissioned by American Express, India and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) revealed.
“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 the 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,” said Manish Kapoor, Vice President, and Head of Global Commercial Services (GCS), American Express Banking Corp., India.
The survey was conducted amongst 500+ Indian businesses across cities in India with a focus on larger businesses, with half of the respondents seeing annual revenues greater than INR 600 crores. 82% of businesses in the survey report have 250 or more employees.
The report further indicates that 79% 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. As with the broader technology sector, the travel technology sector is constantly innovating. In the post-pandemic period, 43% of financial decision-makers surveyed said that the use of better software to manage expenses and travel is a key innovation.
In terms of the practical methods used to pay for travel expenses, the most common way, used by two-thirds of companies (66%), is that the business has company accounts with third-party booking systems. However, most businesses reported using multiple methods, with 61% saying they let employees pay expenses, and 57% saying they provide employees with access to a company credit card.
Here are the key findings of the survey:
Business travel trends: Current and Future
• 53% of businesses said that just over half of their employees had taken an international or domestic work trip in H2 2022.
• Government/public sector employees followed by marketing, sales, real estate, professional services, and pharmaceuticals lead trips. 64% 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.
Reasons for travel and key locations to visit in the second half of 2022
• The top reason for business travel, selected by 41% of businesses, was attending, hosting, or presenting at conferences, presentations, or events.
• Mumbai was the most visited city for domestic business trips (50% of respondents), while internationally, the United States (44% of respondents) emerged as the most popular destination.
Budgets and payment
• 77% of businesses expected to increase their travel budget in 2023.
• Agriculture, manufacturing, construction, utilities, and engineering topped the list with the largest travel budgets on average, at INR 70 lakhs per year for each business.
• 79% of Indian businesses 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% of financial decision-makers surveyed said that the use of better software to manage expenses and travel is a key innovation.
• 92% of businesses have a travel policy with a further 6% in process of making a travel policy. 46% of 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.
• 43% of financial decision makers also selected that they consider special exceptions or rules for more expensive cities in their policy document, while 43% 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 (36%) of respondents, highlighting that this is an increasingly important topic.