What the consequences of the UK’s departure from the European Union will be are still unknown, but the Meetings & Events sector is already preparing for the change of circumstances and regulations. The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) recently held its European conference and this was one of the topics that generated the most interest among attendees.

Although the outcome of the referendum surprised Europeans, the economic consequences haven’t yet been felt too much. During the convention in Frankfurt - which brought together over 950 attendees from 20 countries, including NH Hotel Group - GBTA presented the GBTA BTI Outlook study, which predicts the growth in the business travel industry in Europe throughout 2017.

In this report, the GBTA warns that as a consequence of Brexit, "in the long run we know that Europe faces major challenges in business, the labor market, immigration and investment." The GBTA study includes some specific implications of Brexit for the business travel industry:
  • Uncertainty about trade and immigration, because how the United Kingdom will act with regard to these two issues is unknown.
  • Increased travel expenses: Europe's open sky policy is over so airlines may have to renegotiate routes. There are likely to be fewer flights with higher rates and increased roaming charges. The associated costs of business travel could increase.
  • Travel with more obstacles: the United Kingdom may ask for visas to enter the country, and Europe, in return, may also require visas. Business travelers will encounter more difficulties and requirements as they move through the EU.
  • Residency restrictions: Creating barriers that prevent EU citizens from working in any member country will have long-term effects on the number and length of business trips.

Europe: Germany and Spain at the top

The GBTA estimates that Germany will continue to lead the growth of the business travel industry in 2017, with annual growth of 7.5%. It will be followed by Spain (+ 6.5%), the United Kingdom (+ 4.7%), France (+ 4.2%) and Italy (+ 2.6%).

The United States: uncertainty slows business travel

On the other side of the Atlantic, the outlook is positive but with less growth than in Europe. The uncertainty that the American elections has generated for months, together with other economic factors, will affect the business travel industry. Sector volume is expected to increase by 2.7% next year.

Company policy and comfort rule when booking a trip

What factors have the most influence when booking a business trip? First of all, a company's policy dictates: 4 out of 5 business travelers (79%) state that this is the main factor they take into account when booking their business trip.  Next is comfort (71% surveyed said that this is a very important factor) and then price (70%).
This data comes from a GBTA Foundation study of about 1,000 professionals who travel regularly for work in the United States and Europe. The results were presented during the annual meeting.

The respondents also care about the flexibility of booking changes (58%), flexibility in trip cancellation (56%) and loyalty programs offered by companies (50%).

For more information go to: http://europeconference.gbta.org/

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