Business travel volumes and trip lengths increased in the fourth quarter of 2022, and air and hotel costs for business travel also began to moderate, according to the quarterly SpendSmart Travel Trends report from expense management supplier Emburse.
The data, based on more than 140,000 transactions made by travel management companies on Emburse's platform during the fourth quarter, showed that the total number of domestic flights during the quarter was up 84 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2021 and down 11 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019. Spending on domestic air travel was up 80 percent year over year in the quarter.
International air travel spending in the quarter was 18 percent below levels in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to Emburse.
Total hotel reservations on the Emburse platform were up 89 percent year over year and down 45 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019. The average stay lasted 4.13 nights, up 55 percent compared with the average trip length in the fourth quarter of 2021 and down 8 percent from the same period in 2019. The average nightly spend at hotels during the quarter was $138, down from $184 in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Emburse CEO Eric Friedrichsen in a statement said the declines in domestic ticket prices and lodging spend "could suggest that travelers are finding a balance between maintaining travel volumes and effective cost control, by opting for lower cost flights and hotels."
Total car rentals during the quarter were up 73 percent year over year—down 48 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019—and car rental spending was up 110 percent. The average rental duration also was up to 5.38 days, compared with 3.54 days in the fourth quarter of 2021, and the average rental cost per day decreased to $47 from $59 for the same period.