Forecast: Meetings, Business Travel Will Surge in 2016

Although group travel volume fell 2 percent in 2014 -- fallout from an unusually strong 2013, when group travel volume grew a whopping 8.6 percent -- it will rebound in 2016, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), which today released its latest industry forecast, the "GBTA BTI Outlook - United States 2015 Q2." In it, it predicts that group travel volume will grow 0.9 percent and 3.1 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and that group travel spending will grow 5.3 percent and 4.3 percent.

The strong group market is part of a larger business travel growth trend, according to GBTA, which forecasts increases in overall U.S. business travel volume and spending this year and next: In 2015, it predicts, U.S. business travel spending will increase 4.9 percent to $302.7 billion, while U.S. business travel volume will increase 1 percent to 488.1 million person-trips. In 2016, meanwhile, business travel spending will grow 5.4 percent to $318.9 billion, while business travel volume will grow 3 percent to 502.8 million person-trips.

U.S. business travel spending is up 38 percent from 2009, when the industry bottomed out in the midst of the Great Recession.

"U.S. business travel was poised for significant growth in 2015, but the erratic performance of key economic drivers caused some to tap the brakes on additional travel spending," GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick said in a statement. "Yet, economic fundamentals remain strong. Business travel will continue to have positive momentum as we move toward 2016, a leading indicator that the overall economy will continue to grow as well."

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