n 2017, project-based business travel spending reached $45.4 billion USD, comprising 15 percent of all U.S. business travel spending, according to a first-of-its-kind study from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in partnership with InterContinental Hotels Group. In total, 66 million trips were taken last year for project-based purposes, representing 12 percent of all U.S. business trips and 19 percent of all U.S. business trips taken for transient purposes. To be considered project-based travel, the travel must revolve around a project, have both a start and end date, and have a duration of at least four nights or have some recurring component. It does not include group travel, relocation or travel for training.
"This study clearly demonstrates the breadth and depth of the project-based segment," said Derek DeCross, Senior Vice President, Global Sales, IHG. "Based upon the learnings from this study, the industry has an opportunity to develop more effective strategies to engage this segment of travelers to best serve their unique needs moving forward."
The average spend per business trip was significantly higher for trips taken for project-based purposes ($679) than for other business trips ($533) taken over the same period. The higher spending is driven by longer average stays and higher trip budgets. Project -based business travelers spent a total of $15.9 billion on lodging, $14.6 billion on air transportation, $7.0 billion on food & beverage, $1.8 billion on entertainment, $4.2 billion on ground transportation and $1.9 billion on retail.
Project-Based Business Travel Widely Distributed Across United States
Project-based business travel mainly reflects the distribution of broader-based business travel activity with Los Angeles (7 percent of all project trips), New York (5 percent), Las Vegas (4 percent), Chicago (4 percent) and San Francisco (4 percent) coming in as the top project-based markets. There are also a handful of states noted in the graphic that have a higher proportion of project-based business travel relative to all business travel activity.
While the rate at which firms invest in project-based business travel differs significantly across industries, the top three industries include manufacturing, real estate and professional services - with $10 billion alone spent on the manufacturing project-based market. The most project-travel-intense sector by a wide margin is the construction industry, with project travel comprising 20 percent of total business travel spending.
A significantly higher proportion of project-based trip budgets get allocated towards accommodations with the average amount spent per trip on lodging coming in 142 percent higher for project-based trips than non-project based trips. When it comes to choosing a hotel property, location by far trumps all other attributes driving the lodging choice. Project-based business travelers are also significantly less likely to book lodging on their own directly through a hotel. Project travelers' top three amenities when choosing lodging include WiFi access, having breakfast included in the rate and being able to secure additional loyalty points.
The study also delves further into the profile and trip behavior of project-based business travelers.
The report, Project-Based Business Travel in the United States, is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through GBTA by emailing Paul Yachnes.
For reporters interested in a copy of the full study, which includes the methodology, please contact Colleen Gallagher.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) is the world's premier business travel and meetings trade organization headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area with operations on six continents. GBTA's 10,000-plus members manage more than $345 billion of global business travel and meetings expenditures annually. GBTA delivers world-class education, events, research, advocacy and media to a growing global network of more than 28,000 travel professionals and 125,000 active contacts. To learn how business travel drives lasting business growth, visit gbta.org.