Kazakhstan has become the most popular country for foreign business trips

Experts from Aeroclub, a market leader in business travel and a leading provider of IT solutions for the industry, analyzed the bookings of international flights and hotel accommodations abroad made in the first half of 2022 by business representatives from Russia, and found out how demand has changed, which countries have become in demand among business travelers, and which companies have sent their employees on business trips abroad.

Kazakhstan has become the most popular country for foreign business trips

According to the study, the demand for foreign flights from business representatives in the first half of 2022 more than doubled the volumes of the previous year (113%). However, the number of international air tickets purchased by business travelers in the first half of 2022 reached only 28% of the pre-pandemic 2019 figures. Experts noted an increase in demand for foreign business trips in the second quarter of 2022: compared to the first quarter of 2022, the number of flights of business tourists abroad increased by 23%, and the drop by 2019 decreased to 68%. However, if before the pandemic, foreign business trips accounted for 21% of all flights, then in the first half of 2022 their share was 10% (5% in 2021).

After a sharp increase in demand from business representatives for one-way flights in March (69%), in the second quarter, the share of such flights decreased to 51%. The maximum share of business class flights on foreign routes was noted in April – on one-way flights it reached 19%. In Q2 2022, the share of business class flights abroad decreased from 14% in Q1 to 12% (2019 – 10%, 2021 – 15%).

The planning horizon for business travelers in the first half of 2022 was lower than a year earlier. If in 2021 39% of air tickets abroad were purchased a week before departure and earlier, then this year the share of such tickets was 50%. Moreover, before the pandemic, air tickets purchased a week before departure and earlier accounted for only a third of all tickets. The share of flights that were booked three weeks or more before departure in the first half of 2022 was only 18% (38% in 2019, 24% in 2021). If in the “pre-pandemic” 2019, on average, due to changes in business travel plans, business travelers returned 6% of tickets, then this year the share of returned tickets reached 23% (17% in 2021).

we are seeing an acceleration of processes that were shackled by the pandemic: in difficult economic conditions, businesses have to make quick decisions – the volume of business trips has increased significantly,” said Yulia Lipatova, managing director of Aeroclub.

The average cost of a flight abroad in economy class has increased by a third compared to the first half of 2021 and amounted to 31,000 rubles (94% compared to 2019) for a one-way flight. For a ticket in a business class cabin, business travelers paid an average of 90 thousand rubles, which is 49% more expensive than in 2019 and 2021.

Most often in the first half of 2022, representatives of the IT and telecom industries, as well as employees of financial and consulting companies, went on business trips abroad. They accounted for 24% and 14% of all air tickets abroad, respectively. In Q2, the number of flights by employees of IT and telecom companies increased by a third compared to Q1 (-37% by 2019, 222% by 2021), and only 3% of flights were made in business class. Employees of financial and consulting companies chose business class on a third of their flights in the first half of 2022. In the second quarter, the number of their foreign business trips decreased by 47%, and the share fell from 21% to 9%. In the second quarter of 2022, representatives of the mining and manufacturing industries, energy companies increased the volume of foreign flights by 76% compared to the previous period and increased their share in the total number of air tickets from 10% to 14%. At the same time, 20% of flights by representatives of the mining and manufacturing industries, power engineers took place in the business class cabin.

The growth in demand for foreign business trips in the second quarter of 2022 from the countries included in the top 20 did not affect only Belarus and Germany, which, compared to the second quarter of 2021, lost 8% and 25% of business tourists, respectively. The rest of the countries significantly exceeded last year's figures, for example, Armenia (119% by 2019), the UAE (101%) and Israel (176%) managed to attract many times more business travelers than before the pandemic. Turkey (108%), Armenia (128%), France (93%), Azerbaijan (102%), India (81%) and Kyrgyzstan (99%) demonstrated the maximum growth by Q1 2022. Thus, in the first half of 2022, the most popular countries among business representatives were: Kazakhstan (154% by 2021, -26% by 2019), Turkey (288% by 2021, -26% by 2019), UAE (277% by 2021, 74% by 2019), Uzbekistan (56% by 2021, -7% by 2019), Armenia (112% by 2021, -11% by 2019), Belarus (-1% by 2021, -76% by 2019), France (175% by 2021, -84% by 2019), Israel (5444% by 2021, 117% by 2019), Azerbaijan (304% by 2021, -39% by 2019), Italy (-18% by 2021, -86 % by 2019). Leading in 2019 the top most demanded countries for business representatives, Germany lost 94% (195% by 2021) of business travelers from Russia and fell to 12th place, while the United States moved from sixth to eleventh place (234% by 2021, -84% by 2019 ).

Demand for accommodation in hotels abroad in the first half of 2022 was only 40% lower than the “pre-pandemic” 2019 (168% by 2021). In the second quarter, experts noted a sharp increase in demand for accommodation abroad – it turned out to be 50% higher than the volumes of the first quarter and did not reach the indicators of 2019 by a third (168% by 2021). At the same time, the share of nights that business tourists spent in the first half of 2022 in five-star hotels was 31% (21% in 2019, 37% in 2021), 36% lived in four-star hotels (45% in 2019, 32% in 2021) of business travelers, 3-star hotels accounted for 18% (23% in 2019, 21% in 2021) of all nights booked abroad, and 14% of business travelers stayed in non-categorised accommodation (10% in 2019, 9 % in 2021). Thus, of all categories of accommodation in the II quarter of 2022, only the demand for five-star hotels exceeded the “pre-pandemic” one by 4%.

The average length of stay has risen since the start of the pandemic and has remained at four nights per trip (3 in 2019). A third of all nights in the first half of 2022 were booked for employees of IT and telecom companies, they stayed in hotels abroad twice as often as in “pre-pandemic” 2019. A quarter of all nights in hotels abroad were booked by employees of financial and consulting companies, and they exceeded the figures for 2019 by 77%. Representatives of the mining and manufacturing industries, power engineers lived in foreign hotels for 65% fewer nights than in the first half of 2019 (17% share). The largest growth in demand for accommodation abroad compared to Q1 2022 was demonstrated by IT and telecom companies (78% by Q1 2022, 151% by 2019, 30% share), companies providing supply and repair of technological equipment (157% by Q1 2022, -9% vs. 2019, share 6%), retail (83% vs. Q1 2022, -58% vs. 2019, share 4%).

Most nights in the first half of 2022 representatives of Russian business spent in Kazakhstan (52% by 2019, 180% by 2021, share 17%). Previously not included in the top 20, Israel took the second place in demand among business tourists – the demand for accommodation in this country increased by 898% compared to the “pre-pandemic” indicators, and the share was 9% of all nights. The UAE, also not in significant demand before the pandemic, took a share of 9%, the demand for this destination grew by 324% compared to 2019. The top 10 also includes Uzbekistan (227% by 2019), Turkey (86%), Armenia (511%), Azerbaijan (34%), Belarus (-48%), Colombia (-33%), Serbia (94% ).

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