Business travel trends for 2017 - part two

27 Dec 2016 by Jenny Southan
Neon sign at Good Hotel

In the second in a four-part series we look some of the key business travel trends for the year ahead. Part two: team travel, caring capitalism and vacation deprivation…


Based on data from an annual survey by MeetingsNet and the Incentive Research Foundation, the IBTM Trends Watch Report 2016 predicts that 2017 will see a “continuing rally in demand for incentive travel”, with budgets expanding and incentive programmes growing for groups of employees. In 2008, per-person spending on incentive travel was US$3,659 but the global financial crisis saw this reduced to US$2,397 by 2014. There was a turnaround in 2015, with figures moving in an upward direction. Last year (2016), it was back up to US$3,165.

Meetings are also on the rise, although European firms are being careful about how much is being spent. They are also shortening travel time and combining multiple meetings into one event. Belgium, France and Germany are the most popular destinations for international association meetings, while the US (first place), South Korea (second place) and Singapore (third place) are the most popular globally.


Over the last year we have seen the arrival of travel start-ups with a conscience, and this trend is one that will gain momentum in 2017, as travellers take a greater interest in the wider impact their spending will have. Concept airline POP (People over Profit) hit the headlines in 2016 with its crowdfunding campaign to kickstart flights between the UK and Indian cities of Amritsar and Ahmedabad this year. If successful, profits from the carrier will be distributed between various charities.

The nonprofit Green Rooms hotel opened in London’s Wood Green in June, with artists, designers and actors given priority when it comes to booking its stylish yet affordable (from £45 a night) rooms. The UK’s first arts-led social enterprise hotel will also have an artist-in-residence programme and incubator for emerging restaurateurs. It was set up by Nick Hartwright, who also runs the Mill Co Project in East London, a social enterprise that provides affordable co-working space for the creative community.

A former floating prison from the Netherlands took up a new mooring in Royal Victoria Docks, near London City airport, in September 2016. All profits from the luxurious new Good Hotel will be reinvested in training schemes for unemployed locals. Using this business model as a template, founder Marten Dresden intends to open eight new properties by 2020, and create a new standard for social enterprise.

Ethical luggage brand Saint Luke donates US$20 from the sale of every bag to providing safe drinking water to people in Nepal, while Mazi Mas is a “roaming restaurant” and caterer in London that gives jobs to female migrants and refugees.

Over in New York, 11 Howard is another example of “conscious hospitality”. A hotel and “community hub”, it supports emerging business and charitable organisations – for example, a percentage of revenue from every reservation going to the Global Poverty Project. It has also partnered with Conscious Commerce to make sure all the goods stocked in the hotel are ethical, while Thrive Market provides healthy snacks for the minibars.


Expedia’s annual Vacation Deprivation study showed that one in five British people didn’t take their full holiday allowance in 2016. (The global average saw 20 out of 25 days taken.) The survey quizzed more than 9,400 people from 28 countries, including Denmark, Australia, Canada and the US. The UK was ranked 12th in terms of work-life balance, while Germany came top, with employees spending 33 per cent of their time on holiday, while South Korea came out worst, with people dedicating 92 per cent of their time to the office.

Overall, 50 per cent of people feel “vacation deprived”. Frequent flyers are, of course, more often combining holiday with work trips abroad, but the problem is you never truly relax.

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