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04 Apr 2024

BCD Travel Cities & Trends U.S. Report

BCD Travel Hall: BTSE Stand: H41
BCD Travel Cities & Trends U.S. Report

BCD Travel reveals the top destinations of 2023 for U.S. business travelers

According to BCD Travel’s Cities & Trends 2023 United States edition, Europe accounts for seven of the 10 most visited intercontinental cities for American business travelers, with London being the most popular. The report is based on BCD flight and car rental data in 2023 in the U.S.

Top 10 business travel cities

The list of most visited domestic cities for business travel is led by Atlanta. The home of many Fortune 500 companies such as Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, Atlanta is also recognized as the city with the fastest growth in people starting a new business. Dallas-Fort Worth, featuring a robust network of major companies and corporate headquarters, and Chicago, with a growing reputation as a tech hub, follow in second and third place.

Europe is clearly leading with the top 10 intercontinental cities. According to the European Commission, the EU and U.S. have the largest trade and investment relationship in the world. Together, both economies account for one-third of global trade in goods and services. Apart from business hotspot London in first place, other European cities in the list include Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, Zurich and Dublin. The ranking also includes three Asian cities: Tokyo, Seoul and Dubai.

2023 ranking Domestic Intercontinental
1 Atlanta, GA London
2 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX Frankfurt
3 Chicago, IL Amsterdam
4 New York City, NY Paris
5 Denver, CO Munich
6 Washington, DC Tokyo
7 Charlotte, NC Zurich
8 Houston, TX Dublin
9 Los Angeles, CA Seoul
10 Seattle/Tacoma, WA Dubai

Top 5 business travel states and countries

Texas is leading the top five domestic states for business travel. With no corporate or personal income tax, Texas is an appealing option for both companies and employees. In recent years, the state has attracted many corporate relocations from Silicon Valley, including high-profile companies such as Tesla and Hewlett Packard. Nevertheless, California in second place remains a top state for doing business.

Again, the intercontinental ranking with the U.K., Germany, Netherlands and France demonstrates the strong trade relationship with Europe.

2023 ranking Domestic Intercontinental
1 Texas United Kingdom
2 California Germany
3 Georgia Netherlands
4 Illinois France
5 Florida Japan

“On a global level, business travel has recovered to 90% of pre-pandemic (2019) levels,” said Craig Bailey, BCD’s president, Americas. “Factors like economic conditions, remote work and sustainability developments will continue to have an impact on business travel. For example, in 2024, a fifth of offices in the U.S. will be empty, as 60% of firms allow remote working. But anyone in a team made up of remote workers will need to meet face-to-face occasionally. Companies are responding to this development, encouraging remote teams to meet at head offices or other convenient meeting locations. As the commuter of yesterday becomes the business traveler of tomorrow, remote work could potentially lead to more travel.”

Top 10 business travel routes

New York City is the most often used departure hub for intercontinental routes1, with flights to London, Frankfurt and Paris.

The top 10 arrival hubs for intercontinental flights are all in Europe and dominated by London and Frankfurt, together accounting for eight positions in the top 10. Amsterdam and Paris complete the list.

2023 ranking Intercontinental routes
1 New York City – London
2 Chicago – Frankfurt
3 New York City – Frankfurt
4 Washington, D.C. – Frankfurt
5 Los Angeles – London
6 Chicago – London
7 San Francisco – Frankfurt
8 Atlanta – Amsterdam
9 New York City – Paris
10 Dallas-Fort Worth – London

Cabin class

When booking intercontinental flights in 2023, U.S. business travelers chose mostly business class (53%) and economy class (36%). Premium economy (10%) and first class (1%) were booked the least.

Flight type

When traveling for business in the U.S., 80% of booked flights were direct with only 20% as connecting flights. For intercontinental travel, the breakdown is almost equal: 47% of booked flights were direct, 53% were connecting flights.

Travelers usually choose their flight and cabin class as per their company’s policy, schedule and personal preferences. If travelers want to reach their destination early, they tend to book a direct flight. If they don’t have a time limit and want to save money, they might opt for a connecting flight. For intercontinental flights, they’re also highly dependent on whether direct flights for their destination are available.

Car rental

For 44% of all air bookings in the U.S., business travelers booked a rental with an average of four days. Dallas-Fort Worth leads the ranking of car rental cities, followed by Chicago and Atlanta.

“When traveling for business, especially to a spread-out city like Dallas-Fort Worth, renting a car provides a convenient and flexible way to get around,” Bailey added. “It offers the freedom to make your own schedule, without having to rely on public transportation, taxis or ride-sharing services.”

According to a global car rental survey recently conducted by BCD, 83% of U.S. business travelers said they never rent an electric car on business trips. This is mainly because of complex logistics, low availability at the rental location and short range. Those who rent electric cars are mostly motivated by sustainability or their desire to try an electric vehicle. 

The full Cities & Trends 2023 United States Report with insights about U.S. business travelers is available on https://www.bcdtravel.com/resources/cities-and-trends-us-2023-edition/

Ref. 1: Top routes combine data of multiple airports for the following cities: London (Heathrow, London Gatwick and London City); Paris (Charles de Gaulle and Orly); New York City (John F. Kennedy, Newark and La Guardia) and Dallas-Fort Worth (Dallas-Fort Worth International, Love Field and Addison).

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