Decoding key trends, spoilsports, and recommendations for every business traveller

Decoding key trends, spoilsports, and recommendations for Corporate Travel for every business traveller

Corporate travel in India made a comeback in 2023, with spend growing 24.7% according to GBTA. 2024 is set to witness this continued rise of business travel with an anticipated 18.3% increase in spending, touching nearly US$ 38.2 billion, or Rs 3.17 trillion, as per the GBTA report.

To understand the growth drivers, business travel industry outlook, and decode today’s business traveller in India, Bertrand Saillet, Managing Director, FCM Travel Asia; Sunny Sodhi, Managing Director, FCM Travel India; and Catherine Logan, Regional Senior VP, EMEA & APAC, GBTA sat down for a fireside chat at FCM Corporate Travel Summit, powered by GBTA in Mumbai.

The discussion delved into the trajectory of business travel in India and south-east Asia and what is going to unfold in the coming years.

“Business travel is the blood of the global economy. We saw it during COVID; when there is no business travel, there is no growth. We are tapping into opportunities and India and south-east Asia are big opportunities for us,” said Saillet.

Decoding key trends, spoilsports, and recommendations for Corporate Travel for every business traveller

Where does India stand: Exploring stats

As per the GBTA report, India is the 9th largest business travel market in the world and soon going to be the 7th.  Several factors including economic, corporate and EBITDA growth have been the driving force behind the progress, as well as the airline industry. 

The aviation boom in India has contributed to business travel market in the country. Right now, we have 700 planes flying in this country, and in the next six years, we are going to get this number to 2,000. We will also see an increase in operational airports in the next 6-7 years. Business travel is the second or the third largest controllable spend and everyone wants to travel for business, meetings and events.

Sunny Sodhi, MD - FCM Travel India

Decoding key trends, spoilsports, and recommendations for Corporate Travel for every business traveller


What’s changed: Importance of in-person meetings, bleisure

Business travellers are hitting the road again, realising the value of face-to-face meetings for achieving business objectives. The second-most prominent trend which is catching up is bleisure (business + leisure).

“Many companies are promoting better work culture, giving flexibility to business travellers to combine leisure with business trips,” said Sodhi.

As per the GBTA report, 79% business travellers in India extended a work trip for leisure. In a poll we posted on LinkedIn, business travellers voted bleisure as their top 2024 business travel trend.

Possible growth spoilsports: Visa, grounded planes

Even the most seasoned travel managers and bookers will agree that visas and budget constraints are impediments to business travel. Right now, waiting time to get a visa from India for countries including the US and UK is around one year.

Another barrier which emerged from the discussion was capacity.

“One serious concern is the number of planes that are grounded today. CAPA had projected a sizeable number of planes not flying because of spare parts and engine issues. This is creating stress on average ticket prices… and you can see them grow by 10-15%. This can be deterrent to travel and people in this case will undertake only necessary travel,” said Sodhi

How’s the future looking: Recommendations for business travellers

Pricing and user experience are crucial elements in business travel experience and more can be done to enhance them. For instance, organisations can benefit from consolidated travel offerings such as FCM Platform, which provides air, hotels, and car options on one platform. Even quality content is going to be a game-changer going forward.

“Content and user experience are paramount. We need to focus on user experience and as a company we are investing heavily into it. Everyone wants to look at quality data and using data to make an efficient travel policy. Use data to the best of the ability,” said Sodhi.

Taking a long-term view, Saillet said AI will assist TMCs to deliver high value experiences to travel managers and bookers.

Decoding key trends, spoilsports, and recommendations for Corporate Travel for every business traveller



AI will change business travel profoundly over the next 10 years, and impact people, interaction with customers. We are investing millions of dollars every year in AI. Soon, you will be able to talk to your TMCs through ChatGPT to book corporate travel. Our people are focussing in delivering high value to our customer.

Bertrand Saillet MD - FCM Travel Asia

The need of the hour

Communication! Effective exchange of ideas and best practices between TMCs and travel managers and bookers to elevate the business travel industry and tackle key issues. “Communication is between companies and TMCs to build best practices, build quality products and content, and take the industry to higher levels,” said Saillet at the event.

The FCM Corporate Travel Summit saw over 150 attendees from various industries who exchanged ideas and solutions to solve barriers to business travel

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