• A post-pandemic surge in demand for business travel led to NYC's ranking
  • Switzerland's Geneva and Zurich ranked second and fourth
  • Global business travel market is expected to reach $1.5 trillion in next four years

New York ranked as the world's most expensive city for business travel in 2022, priced at triple-digit figures (USD) per day for those traveling for work.

Other cities that bolstered the U.S. dominion on the list include Washington D.C. and San Francisco which followed closely behind New York in the top five. Switzerland's Geneva and Zurich were ranked second and fourth respectively to round up in the top five.

People traveling to New York for work shelled out $796 per day on average, according to consulting firm ECA. Four-star hotel accommodation was used as a point of comparison when drawing up the list. ECA factored in hotel rooms, meals, laundry, alcoholic and soft drinks, incidental costs and taxi journeys for these rankings.

This is the first time the Big Apple has topped the list. "New York tops the rankings for yet another year as the cost associated with business travel has rebounded strongly over the course of a year," said Lee Quane, ECA's Regional Director for the APAC region.

"A post-pandemic surge in demand for business travel and tourism to the Big Apple has contributed to an increase in accommodation costs. Furthermore, rates of inflation for other goods commonly consumed by business travelers contributed to a growth of 8% in business travel costs," he added.

The current rates in NYC are certainly up from $549 in 2017 when it was previously ranked the most expensive destination for business travel according to data compiled from Expert Market, Washington Post reported. At that time, the biggest cost was of hotels, priced at $385 per diem. Washington D.C. was also in the top five back then, along with Chicago.

Valued at $0.92 trillion in 2021, the global business travel market is expected to reach $1.5 trillion in the next four years. In addition, the market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 8.5%, as per data from ResearchandMarkets.

The initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic gave a huge jolt to the business travel industry. With Zoom calls and video conferences replacing in-person meetings due to lockdowns, it was feared that it could eventually lead to the death of the business travel sector. While the threat of the virus may have subsided, video meetings over Zoom continue to persist.

During an NYTimes event in November 2020, thought leader Bill Gates predicted more than 50% of business travel will go away permanently in order to be replaced by virtual connections, as per Forbes. His words bore true as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in their February 2022 report, confirmed that the pandemic "led to extensive use of videoconferencing and virtual meetings, and many companies expect virtual work to persist over the long term."

During the same month, the number of business travelers who said they'll never want to go back to living out of the suitcase was up to 42%, a 3% uptick from October 2021, data from Morning Consult revealed. When asked what type of trips were they looking to take in 2023, 76% of employed respondents said it'd be for leisure, while 41% said they'd be on the road for work-only trips. Bleisure – trips taken for both leisure and business – seemed to be the rising trend, with 44% of respondents saying they'd take one but they'd prioritize leisure over work. As many as 40% said they'd evenly spend time on both.

But all hope's not lost in the ever-changing market scenario. A Morgan Stanley research report from last December found that business trips are bouncing back.

"Most interesting is that nearly half of the respondents expect 2023 budgets to increase versus 2019 overall. And of those that expect an increase in budgets, the majority believe 2023 budgets will be between 6% to 10% higher than 2019," said Ravi Shanker, an equity analyst covering North American transportation, as per the research report.

The skyline of lower Manhattan is seen before sunrise in New York
New York is world's costliest city for business travel Reuters