Emburse processes more than $80 billion per year in employee expenses, invoices, and card payments. In each of our SpendSmart reports, we analyze this data to determine trends and patterns across a broad spectrum of business spend categories.
Emburse's quarterly SpendSmart Travel Trends report provides a view into how much organizations spend on travel, as well as trends for booking volume and trip length. This analysis compares travel volume and cost in the Q3 (July-August-September) period from 2019 to 2022, and is based on booking transactions within the U.S. (or originating from, for international air travel).
Domestic air travel continues to recover since falling significantly with the onset of the pandemic. In Q3 2022, domestic flights saw an 88% increase over the same quarter in 2021, which is only 36% lower than in Q3 2019. From a spend perspective, companies spent 95% more on domestic air travel in Q3 2022 than the year prior. While still 41% lower than the amount spent in 2019, that growth signals a trajectory forward for domestic business travel.
International travel is also picking up with a startling 6,331% increase over the same quarter of 2021. Similarly, spend on international air travel is up more than a hundredfold over Q3 2021 and is seven times the spend of the previous quarter Q2. Even with this rapid growth, international air bookings are 60% lower than in 2019, with spend 58% lower than in Q3 2019, as global businesses continue to exercise caution.
In Q3 2022, car rentals for business trips increased 108% over Q3 2021 but were still 26% lower than the same quarter in 2019. Car rental durations, however, were longer this quarter than they have ever been in the period examined: Travelers averaged 5.64 days with their car rental in Q3 2022, compared to an average of 3.98 days in Q3 2021 and 4.29 days in Q3 2019.
Spend on car rentals for business trips was up 144% over Q3 2021, but the average rental cost $44 per day, down 6% on the previous quarter and 17% over the same quarter last year.
In Q3 2022, business travelers staying in hotels averaged 4.49 days per stay. This reflects a 29% increase in trip length over the same quarter in 2021. Compared to Q3 2019, it shows an 16% increase in trip length. The number of hotel reservations is up 96% over Q3 2021 but still 44% lower than in 2019.
Average daily spend on hotels for business trips was up $146, compared to $152 in Q3 2021. Rates were also down 4% over the previous quarter, but still up by 23% since the same period last year.
Early summer travel chaos and worries about an impending economic downturn led many to enact change in the late summer months. In August, tech giants Microsoft and Google asked employees to limit business travel, favoring virtual meetings. Then, in September, the US Department of Transportation launched its Airline Customer Service Dashboard– an effort to create more airline transparency and encourage competition that benefits travelers.
Despite travel woes and recession fears, business travelers did not seem to be deterred. In Q3 2022, domestic and international flight, car rental, and hotel booking volumes each show an increase over both Q3 2021 and Q2 2022. Additionally, they’re making up for fewer trips than in pre-pandemic days with longer stays. Both car rental durations and average number of hotel nights per trip exceed 2019 levels.
Similarly, spend on the aspects of business travel represented has shown annual growth across the board. Business travel appears to be on the rise as the employee relationship with travel continues to find its balance after three years of disruption.
We will continue to monitor these figures and report how they evolve quarterly.
The data in Emburse's quarterly SpendSmart Travel Trends report represents over 140,000 individual transactions made by travel management companies using Emburse’s expense management platform for business travel expenses. It reflects the months of July, August, and September collectively (Q3) for the years 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Emburse is the global leader in spend optimization. Our expense, travel management, purchasing and accounts payable, and payments solutions are trusted by more than 12 million business professionals, including CFOs, finance teams, and travelers. More than 18,000 organizations in 120 countries, from FORTUNE 100 corporations, to high-growth startups, public sector agencies, and nonprofits, count on our intelligent automation, sophisticated analytics and unmatched spend control to streamline processes, increase spend visibility, enhance compliance and deliver positive financial outcomes. We eliminate manual, time-consuming tasks, so our customers and their teams can focus on what matters most.