US Companies Expect to Spend More on Travel


A new Grassroots Research survey of corporate travel managers and travel agents showed that US companies plan to increase their travel expenditures this year -- in line with Allianz Global Investors’ outlook for strong US economic growth.

Key takeaways

  • Grassroots® Research recently conducted the latest in a long-running series of surveys with corporate travel managers and other travel experts: 64% plan to spend more on corporate travel in 2018
  • Not everything is looking up for travel trends: 12% of respondents to our business-travel survey said they will decrease spending in 2018 vs 2017, the second-highest year-over-year reduction since 2012
  • Our new Grassroots® study confirms a trend we’ve seen taking shape since 2013: convention attendance seems to be flattening out, if not falling slightly overall

In today’s competitive global economy, companies watch their travel budgets closely. When the economy is strong, travel costs frequently go up as well – but the opposite is also true. That makes business travel a bellwether for a region’s economic outlook.

A February 2018 study by Grassroots® Research – Allianz Global Investors’ proprietary in-house research division – showed that overall, US companies expect to spend more on business travel this year compared with last year. This is in line with Allianz Global Investors’ outlook for strong US economic growth.

Higher hotel costs and more-frequent international travel were cited by our survey respondents – a group that included US corporate travel managers and travel agents – as top reasons for increasing their budgets.

The Grassroots® Research team has conducted similar travel surveys over a multi-year period, which allows us to spot other developments:

  • 64 per cent of respondents plan to spend more on corporate travel in 2018; this is consistent with the upward trend seen in previous years
  • 24 per cent of respondents expect their travel expenditures to remain flat in 2018, down from 32 per cent the year before
  • 12 per cent said they will decrease travel spending in 2018 vs 2017, the second-highest year-over-year reduction since 2012

Most companies plan to spend more on travel this year
Question: What is the outlook for your 2018 corporate travel spending vs 2017?

Source: Grassroots® Research. Data as at February 2018.

Our new Grassroots® study also confirmed another notable trend: convention attendance seems to be flattening out, if not falling slightly overall.

  • Fewer respondents plan on sending additional employees to conferences in 2018 (4 per cent); this number has been moving consistently lower since 2015
  • Conversely, more respondents plan on sending the same number of employees to conferences in 2018 (88 per cent); this is a marked increase over the 24 per cent who gave a similar response in 2015
  • Every year since 2013, 8 per cent of respondents have told us they plan to cut convention attendance by their employees

Signs of constrained attendance at meetings and conferences
Question: How does the number of employees expected to attend business meetings & conventions in 2018 compare to the number attending in 2017?

Source: Grassroots® Research. Data as at February 2018.

For the latest 2018 survey, our Grassroots® Research team also examined whether heightened global security concerns are having an effect on corporate travel.

  • Approximately four-fifths of our respondents told us they have not made any specific policy changes stemming from security concerns
  • At the same time, around one-fifth of sources said they are examining their “duty of care” programs – which cover their companies’ obligation to take care of travelling employees’ health and safety – or hiring global risk managers and consultants

Senior Consumer Analyst Jon Wolfenbarger said he found this survey helpful in confirming his expectations for improving lodging demand in 2018: “This research suggests that corporate travel budgets could increase by 4 per cent, aided by a stronger global economy and US tax cuts. Employee safety is also another interesting theme, with 20 per cent of corporate travel managers looking closely at duty-of-care programs that help guard employees’ well-being and reduce liability.”

Grassroots® Research is a division of Allianz Global Investors that commissions investigative market research for asset-management professionals. Research data used to generate Grassroots® Research reports are received from independent, third-party contractors who supply research that, subject to applicable laws and regulations, may be paid for by commissions generated by trades executed on behalf of clients. Investing involves risk. The value of an investment and the income from it will fluctuate and investors may not get back the principal invested. Bond prices will normally decline as interest rates rise. The impact may be greater with longer-duration bonds. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. This is a marketing communication. It is for informational purposes only. This document does not constitute investment advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any security and shall not be deemed an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security. The views and opinions expressed herein, which are subject to change without notice, are those of the issuer or its affiliated companies at the time of publication. Certain data used are derived from various sources believed to be reliable, but the accuracy or completeness of the data is not guaranteed and no liability is assumed for any direct or consequential losses arising from their use. The duplication, publication, extraction or transmission of the contents, irrespective of the form, is not permitted. This material has not been reviewed by any regulatory authorities. In mainland China, it is used only as supporting material to the offshore investment products offered by commercial banks under the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investors scheme pursuant to applicable rules and regulations. This document is being distributed by the following Allianz Global Investors companies: Allianz Global Investors U.S. LLC, an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Allianz Global Investors Distributors LLC, distributor registered with FINRA, is affiliated with Allianz Global Investors U.S. LLC; Allianz Global Investors GmbH, an investment company in Germany, authorized by the German Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin); Allianz Global Investors (Schweiz) AG, licensed by FINMA ( for distribution and by OAKBV (Oberaufsichtskommission berufliche Vorsorge) for asset management related to occupational pensions in Switzerland; Allianz Global Investors Asia Pacific Ltd., licensed by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission; Allianz Global Investors Singapore Ltd., regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore [Company Registration No. 199907169Z]; Allianz Global Investors Japan Co., Ltd., registered in Japan as a Financial Instruments Business Operator [Registered No. The Director of Kanto Local Finance Bureau (Financial Instruments Business Operator), No. 424, Member of Japan Investment Advisers Association and Investment Trust Association, Japan]; and Allianz Global Investors Taiwan Ltd., licensed by Financial Supervisory Commission in Taiwan.

About the author

Aggie  Wong

Aggie Wong

Research Analyst

San Francisco, California

Ms. Wong is a research analyst and an assistant vice president with Allianz Global Investors, which she joined in 2015. She is a member of the Grassroots Research® team, a division that commissions proprietary and customized investigative research, where she manages market research projects for asset-management professionals. She was previously a research associate at Dow Jones. Before that, Ms. Wong was an undergraduate instructor and lecturer at San Francisco State University; she also held a variety of research roles at UCSF Medical Center, UCLA and San Francisco State University. Ms. Wong has a B.A. in psychology and sociology from UCLA, and is a master’s degree candidate in developmental psychology at San Francisco State University.

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Key takeaways

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