RESEARCH: Business trips have doubled in length

New data from Corporate Traveller has revealed that business travellers have more than doubled the length of their trips this year compared with 2019, with the most significant extension being international trips, followed by domestic, then Trans-Tasman.

Corporate Traveller, Flight Centre Travel Group’s flagship travel management provider for SMEs, sourced the findings from its travel booking data from January to May 2022, comparing it to bookings in the year before the pandemic – specifically, January to May 2019.

So far this year, the average domestic business trip has been 3.09 days long, compared with just 1.1 day in 2019, while Trans-Tasman trips have averaged 2.6 days this year, compared with 1.3 in 2019. The lengths of international trips overall have been averaging 8.7 days this year, compared with 3.4 days in 2019.

Tom Walley, global managing director at Corporate Traveller, says there are many reasons behind extended trips this year.

“With most restrictions removed, more businesses are meeting with interstate and international stakeholders face-to-face. After two years of virtual meetings, face-to-face meetings are likely increasing in frequency,” Walley said.

“Executives may also be reuniting with teams for the first time since 2019 and engaging in lengthy operational and strategy meetings in person. Some businesses are also rebuilding again to focus on their growth and conducting longer sales and recruitment-based trips.”

Passenger numbers are bouncing back strongly this year, with Australia’s domestic travel industry headed for a full recovery.

In April, Gold Coast routes, in particular, saw significant numbers: the Canberra-Gold Coast route saw a 193 per cent increase on pre-pandemic levels and flights between the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney also eclipsed pre-pandemic numbers.

However, while a healthy return of passengers is beneficial to the industry’s recovery, airports and airlines have also faced challenges due to workforce shortages.

“Some businesses have experienced, or may be anticipating, delays and cancellations, and may be choosing to extend trips to make up for any lost time,” Walley said.

“The school holidays may have also seen delays in airports and on flights. Sydney airport alone expects to see more than two million passengers flying this month, surpassing the volumes seen during the April school holidays.”

Walley added: “Businesses will likely continue increasing the length of their trips to account for potential delays and other disruptions. International flight capacity has been slower to return than domestic and I expect business trips will increase by around one to two days further over the next year.

“At Corporate Traveller, we’re seeing significant demand for domestic and international travel from our customers this year.

“This suggests businesses are more eager than ever to take to the skies and will continue organising more lengthy trips to multiple destinations, with the aim to rebuild, increase sales, facilitate acquisitions and partnerships, expand into new markets and recruit and retain talent.”