Texas is the new Silicon Valley, according to travel stats

BCD data reveals the top domestic and intercontinental cities that U.S. business travelers visited the most in 2023.

U.S. business travelers visited London the most on intercontinental trips last year. On the domestic side, they most often traveled to Atlanta. That’s according to BCD flight and car rental data published in the new Cities & Trends 2023, United States edition, a report examining the activities of U.S. business travelers last year.

Source: 2023 BCD Travel flight and car rental data

What were the top business travel cities in 2023?

Top-ranked Atlanta is home to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport (ATL), the world’s busiest airport, and many Fortune 500 companies, including Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola. It’s also recognized as the city with the fastest growth in people starting a new business. Dallas-Fort Worth, the second most-visited city, is the location for a robust network of major companies and corporate headquarters. Chicago, with a growing reputation as a tech hub, follows in third place.

Most of the top 10 intercontinental cities are in Europe. After London in first place, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, Zurich and Dublin also made the top 10. Three Asian cities – Tokyo, Seoul and Dubai – ranked seventh, ninth and tenth respectively.

Texas leads the top five domestic states for business travel. The state has no corporate or personal income tax and is an appealing option for both companies and employees. In recent years, it has attracted many corporate relocations from Silicon Valley, including high-profile companies such as Tesla and Hewlett Packard. California was the second most-visited state for U.S. business travelers.

“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.”

New York City was top departure hub for intercontinental flights

Last year, U.S. travelers most frequently used New York City as a departure hub for intercontinental routes. This is according to combined data from multiple airports in 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).

London and Frankfurt together account for eight of the top 10 arrival city pairs. New York City to London, Chicago to Frankfurt and New York City to Frankfurt were the top three routes. Amsterdam and Paris also made the list.

Business vs Economy: Where do Americans like to sit on flights?

U.S. business travelers mostly chose business class (53%) and economy class (36%) for their intercontinental flights last year Premium economy (10%) and first class (1%) were booked the least.

Flight type

It’s not surprising that U.S. business travelers most often booked direct flights (80%) over connecting flights (20%). For intercontinental trips, both flight types were booked nearly equally: 47% of booked flights were direct, 53% were connecting flights.

Travelers tend to pick their flight and cabin class based on company policy, schedule and personal preferences. Travelers usually book a direct flight when they want to reach their destination early. To save money (but not necessarily time), they might choose a connecting flight. For intercontinental flights, they’re dependent on whether direct flights to their destination are available.

Car rentals: Convenience and freedom

For 44% of all air bookings in the U.S., business travelers booked a rental car for an average of four days. They rented cars in Dallas-Fort Worth most often, 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. They pointed to complex logistics, low availability at the rental location and short travel ranges as deterrents. Those who rent electric cars do so for sustainability or their desire to try an electric vehicle. Get more findings from the car rental survey here.

Get more information on 2023 U.S. business traveler activity at the link below.

This report follows the recently published Cities & Trends 2023 Europe edition. The reports are produced annually.

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