Global business travel statistics 2021

All the facts & figures on global business travel in 2021, including attitudes towards travelling for work & the most popular business tr…

Editorial Team

By Editorial Team

shot from above, showing a table with a laptop, a phone, a small suitcase, some shirts, ties and a couple of wallets

Millions of people travel for business purposes every year — or at least they did before the pandemic hit.

For some of us, traveling for business trips, conferences and meetings is up there with the most enjoyable parts of the job, with many job advertisements even listing frequent travel as one of the perks of the role.

But for others – business travel is far from fun.

That said, the global business travel industry still remains hugely successful, and many businesses are bouncing back after the impact of the pandemic.

In addition, to find out more about the current state of global business travel in 2021 and our attitudes towards traveling for work, we’ve compiled all of the most up-to-date global business travel statistics for 2021.

Here are our key findings:

  • The majority of people who travel to different countries or cities for work enjoy it (55%).
  • London is the most popular city for business travel in the world.
  • Emirates is the most popular airline in the world for business-class travel.
  • Air China has experienced the most significant decline in popularity (95% decrease in search volume) following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Let’s get into more details!

How Many People in the UK Travel For Work?

In June 2021, we surveyed 2,000 adults in the UK using the market research company Censuswide to find out how often people travel for work purposes and how they feel about this type of travel.

The survey asked people about their usual circumstances (before the pandemic) and found that:

  • 33% of UK adults don’t travel to other cities or countries for work and are happy they don’t
  • 16.5% of people in the UK don’t travel to other cities or countries for work but wish they did
  • 12% do a lot of travel to other cities or countries for work and like it
  • 9.4% of UK adults do a lot of travel to other cities or countries for work but don’t like it

global business travel statistics 2021 chart

Which Cities Have the Most Overnight Stays for Business Travel?

We might be a bit biased here, but by far the best part of a business trip has to be the all-expenses-paid apartment or hotel you stay at!

But which city in the world is the most popular amongst business travelers when it comes to overnight stays?

To find out, we conducted a study using the online search analysis tool Keyword Finder to discover where in the world people search for hotels the most in the last 12 months. We did this by inputting the term ‘hotels X’ (with X being the name of each of the world’s 100 most populous cities) into the Keyword Finder tool.

global business travel statistics 2021 chart

It’s important to note that searches for ‘hotels X’ may have been conducted by a mixture of both those traveling for business purposes and those traveling for leisure or other reasons, so it’s difficult to determine this with much certainty. However, we’re working on the assumption that a large proportion of these searches were conducted by business travelers.

The term “Hotels London” is searched the most of all the top 100 cities we analyzed, generating an average of 153,000 searches per month. This is then followed by Paris and Singapore with 91,900 searches and 70,600 searches respectively.

Also, notably in the top 10, 3 cities are European, 4 are Asian, 2 are Australian and 1 is based in North America.

We analyzed the number of average searches prior to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019 and 2020.

Also, we compared these figures to the average searches in 2021 to discover which cities have been most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic for business travel.

global business travel statistics 2021 chart

We found that Mumbai has been the most greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the number of searches for ‘Hotels Mumbai’ dropping from 164,000 in April 2019 to 14,850 in April 2021 which is a reduction of 91%.

Barcelona has also suffered a significant reduction in search volume, dropping from 135,000 searches to 22,200 searches (84% reduction) over the same time period.

However, Barcelona has begun to pick up again in terms of search volume, increasing from 14,800 searches in April 2020 to 22,200 in April 2021.

Furthermore, of the 100 most populous cities in the world that we analyzed, only 7 experienced an increase in search volume in 2021 when compared to the figures in 2019. This highlights the negative effect that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the business travel industry.

Most Popular Airline For Business Travel

We conducted a keyword analysis once again to discover which airline is the most popular in terms of search volumes for business-class travel.

To find our results we analyzed search volumes for “X Business Class” with “X” being the name of the top 100 biggest airlines in the world. Our results are as follows:

global business travel statistics 2021 chart

As you can see from the above graph, we found that Emirates is by far the most popular airline for business class flights, averaging a total of 33,900 monthly searches worldwide. This is then followed by British Airways and Qatar Airways which average 15,800 searches and 14,900 searches respectively.

global business travel statistics 2021 chart

We found that Air China has experienced a significant reduction in search volumes for their business-class flights.

  • The number of searches for the term ‘Air China business class’ reduced from 12,100 in April 2019 to 590 in April 2021 which is a huge reduction of 95% over this two-year period.
  • Other airlines that have experienced a significant reduction in search volumes include Sichuan Airlines (94%), China Eastern Airlines (93%), Hainan Airlines (91%), and Shenzhen Airlines (90%). However, when looking at actual numbers rather than percentage decreases, Emirates saw the largest reduction in searches, dropping by 27,400 searches.

What’s more, only 11 of the 100 airlines we analyzed have had an increase in search volumes between 2019 and 2021.

Summary: Business Travel Statistics Roundup

To conclude, business travel has been significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, placing strains on hotels and airlines across the globe.

However, business travel remains commonplace and there is still significant demand as is apparent by the number of searches for business-class flights.

As the world opens up again, Blueground’s furnished apartments are ideal for frequent business travelers and professionals starting out in a new city. Each of our turnkey apartments is individually designed and comes standard with the latest smart tech.

Editorial Team

Editorial Team

The Blueground editorial team covers the best things to see, do, and experience in our cities around the world.