Business Travel

Most Expensive Cities for Business Travel in the World

Business travel came back this year more strongly than most industry analysts had predicted in the depths of the pandemic. According to a HRS – GBTA business travel survey, more than half of business travelers say the acceleration of business travel’s return has occurred “more quickly” or “much more quickly” than they expected at the beginning of the year.

As the economy reopened and business travel is back on track, global mobility specialist, ECA International (ECA) studied the most expensive cities in the world for business trips.

New York City is the most expensive city in the world for business travel, with daily costs of  £678, hotel costs are the main reason for New York’s place at the top of the global rankings, tipping Geneva into second place worldwide.

worlds most expensive cities biztravel

While Swiss hotel costs are similar to those in other large cities like London and Paris, the other business trip costs in Switzerland easily outstrip other major European cities – making Switzerland the most expensive country in Europe for business travel (Zurich fourth globally, and Bern 12th)l. Businesses sending employees to Geneva will be set back £292 per day for meals, drinks, taxis and incidental costs, compared to only £128 in Lisbon or £148 in Madrid.

London is the eighth most expensive city in the world for business trips, with a trip costing  £497 a day, An overnight stay in a four-star hotel in London now costs an average of £286 a night, almost 20% higher than last year – and more than double the rate in cities like  Vienna (£142), Athens (£136) or Lisbon (£130).

Sending two employees to London for a three-night business trip in London will set businesses back by £2,982, before travel costs.

Outside London, the next most expensive business destination in the UK is Edinburgh, with a typical trip costing £326 a day. Half of the cost is due to hotel stays, with Edinburgh having the second most expensive hotels outside of London. Higher hotel costs have also led Birmingham to be the third most expensive city in the UK, moving above Manchester.

europe biztravel cities

“High inflation and increased staffing costs are leading to hotel stays becoming significantly more expensive across the UK. London, however, stands out as having some of the greatest rises in hotel costs, up by 20% since last year, while hotels elsewhere in the country show an average increase of just 5% on the previous year,” said Alec Smith, Benefits and Daily Rates Manager at ECA International.

Smith added, “As one of the busiest business hubs in the world, demand in London has recovered from the drop in travel seen during the Covid-19 pandemic, with a weakened pound making the UK attractive to international visitors. The drop in value of the pound against major currencies over the past year has led to all UK cities falling in our global rankings, despite some pronounced increases in costs in local currency terms.”

Asia most expensive biz travel

Hong Kong in 2022, remained the most expensive location in Asia and was the 16th most expensive location globally. The average business trip to Hong Kong costs an overall total of USD 520 per day. This is a small decrease of USD 4 from last year’s total.

“Hong Kong has always been one of the most expensive Asian locations to visit on business, and remains so”, said Lee Quane, Regional Director – Asia at ECA International.

“Business travel costs decreased in 2022, albeit slightly, due to low volumes of business travel demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and a poorly performing economy.”

Singapore is now the second most expensive location in the region and the average daily cost of a business trip, at USD 515, is now only slightly cheaper than Hong Kong.

“Singapore overtook Tokyo in 2022 to become the second most expensive city in Asia to visit for business”, said Quane. “Business travel in the city picked up earlier than most other regional locations. This increased demand contributed to rises in hotel accommodation costs, and costs associated with other daily essentials consumed by business travellers also increased at a faster rate than other locations in the region, propelling it to second place in the region and 19th place worldwide”.

Figures used in this release were taken from ECA’s 2022/2023 Daily Rates Report, with prices recorded between September and December 2022 and exchange rates taken from ECA’s September 2022 Cost of Living survey.

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