U.S. Travel: Lost Business Trips Costing $52B in Impact

U.S. Travel: Lost Business Trips Costing $52B in Impact

Business travelers would take two more trips per year if there were fewer travel hassles, resulting in 18 million additional trips and $52 billion in economic impact over the next year, according to U.S. Travel Association estimates.

The travel ecosystem’s inefficiencies and hassles—including long and inconsistent Transportation Security Administration wait times, outdated security measures, and waits for passports and Global Entry membership—are leading to travelers taking two fewer trips per year, according to the organization’s recent research, conducted by Ipsos. U.S. Travel projects this is resulting in 27 million overall skipped trips and $71 billion in lost travel spend over the next 12 months, including $4.5 billion in lost tax revenue.

“Nearly two-thirds of recent air travelers find [the experience] equivalent or worse than going to the DMV,” U.S. Travel president and CEO Geoff Freeman said during a Wednesday media briefing. “This is a result of years of federal underinvestment in travel. The federal government is failing travelers.”

Freeman added that business travelers are less resilient than leisure travelers and more likely to grow frustrated with the process, avoid trips and use alternatives when possible. “Although 74 percent of business travelers plan to travel for work in the next six months, one-third report they are traveling less than they did pre-pandemic,” he said. “The unpredictability of flights due to cancellations and delays is a primary reason.” Other issues include restrictive travel policies and clients preferring videoconferencing to in-person meetings.

To address the air travel experience issues, Freeman cited two areas of focus. The first is a long-term Federal Aviation Administration strategy, beginning with reauthorization and leadership of the agency, namely confirming Michael Whitaker as FAA administrator. “The air travel experience is not going to get better until we see significant and sustained investment to the FAA,” Freeman said.

The second is for the U.S. to learn from best practices from countries that have improved the travel experience process, in manners including using new technologies to allow travelers to keep shoes and belts on in security lanes and have liquids from their carry-on luggage. U.S. Travel is working with Euromonitor on a global benchmark to see how the U.S. compares with 17 other countries.

In addition, “nearly two-thirds of recent travelers are willing to share biometric information with the TSA if it improves the security process in a notable way,” Freeman said, referring to the survey findings.

Further in regard to business travel, Freeman said the rebound also has been constricted by corporate budgets. “Business travel basically has stagnated at 75 percent to 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels,” he said. “That is a massive drop in where we would like to see [it]. We are very concerned about those numbers.”

The U.S. Travel and Ipsos national survey was conducted Aug. 11-20. The poll was based on a representative sample of 1,408 general population adults aged 18 or older. The sample includes 469 respondents who have traveled by air in the past three months, and 363 past or future business travelers.

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