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Corporations Follow Small Businesses in Returning to Travel

Large corporations are reportedly catching up with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in returning to business travel.

While SMBs led the post-pandemic rebound in business travel, corporations are increasingly booking travel as well, Reuters reported Tuesday (June 4).

Hotel CEOs attending the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference also said that corporations are prioritizing domestic business travel over international, that SMBs are generating more repeat business as they meet more often and closer to home, and that trade associations are booking events as many as seven years ahead of time in order to get the dates and locations they want, according to the report.

In most cases, prices paid by these customers are higher than they were before the pandemic, per the report.

American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) reported in May that it saw global multinational customers increase their business travel during the first quarter, outpacing the growth in SMBs’ business travel for the first time since the recovery from the pandemic.

“In global multinational, we’ve seen very positive same-store sales growth across several sectors, particularly technology, up approximately 30% in the first quarter,” Amex GBT CEO Paul Abbott said May 7 during the company’s quarterly earnings call. “We also saw double-digit growth in professional services, pharma, mining, energy and utilities.”

On April 25, American Airlines said business travel is on a steady ascent, aligning with the resurgence observed in the leisure travel sector over the past three years.

During the first quarter, the company achieved record first-quarter revenue, with business travel showing robust growth, particularly among SMBs.

American Airlines CEO Robert Isom highlighted this positive trend during an April 25 call with analysts and investors, noting “sequential improvement in the recovery of managed corporate travel and domestic business revenue growth,” outpacing capacity growth.

Delta Airlines reported in April that it saw corporate travel demand accelerate during the first quarter, with the growth led by large corporate accounts returning to business travel, a trend that was especially strong among those in the technology, consumer services and financial services sectors.

The company said it expects that trend to continue, as 90% of the companies it surveyed said they expect their travel volumes to increase or stay the same.