SMBs Outpace Corporates in Return to Traveling


Small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have reportedly returned to traveling more quickly than corporates.

The amount of money spent on business travel by SMBs has rebounded to 80% of pre-pandemic levels, while that by global and multinational firms lags behind at 61%, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Monday (Jan. 23), citing figures from Amex Global Business Travel (GBT).

The WSJ report attributed the return of SMB business travel in part to federal spending on infrastructure and semiconductor production. This investment has boosted the need for travel by SMBs’ construction crews and sales teams.

Other individuals and SMBs who are traveling for business include travel nurses, truckers and teams from SMBs that work remotely but travel occasionally to meet in person, according to the report.

Corporate customers’ travel, on the other hand, continues to face headwinds due to their being slower to resume travel, their concerns about a coming recession and their facing widespread layoffs in the technology sector, the report said.

With leisure travel recovering much faster than business — and a widely reported feeling that business travel may never return to 2019 levels after the world learned how to operate with video conferencing — business destinations are offering deals to attract leisure travelers, Visa Global Senior Vice President of Merchant Sales and Acquiring Jeni Mundy told PYMTNS Karen Webster in an interview posted Jan. 5.

Hotels are catering to business travel by SMBs and blue-collar workers by altering their food and beverage offerings, changing their kitchens’ hours to serve guests who work night shifts, providing meeting spaces and offering lower rates for travelers who sign up for extended stays, WSJ reported.

Financial institutions (FIs) are catering to the needs of SMB business travelers as well.

As PYMNTS reported Thursday (Jan. 19), U.S. Bank will soon launch a card for small business “road warriors” that is designed to reward SMBs for their frequent travels and take away some of the stress of working on the road.

The bank’s Business Altitude Connect World Elite Mastercard, which is to be released in February, will provide points on select car rentals, hotel rooms and annual travel spending.

In November, Sabre and Mastercard partnered on virtual cards for B2B travel payments, making it easier for travel buyers and suppliers to track and reconcile payments.

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