Geneva is the most expensive business travel destination in Europe
Geneva is the most expensive location in Europe for business travel. This was one of the findings of the latest Daily Rates research published by ECA International.
The total cost of a typical business trip to Geneva, excluding travel to and from the city, is USD 706 per day on average.
“Swiss cities dominate the top ten most expensive destinations due to the relative strength of the Swiss franc against the US dollar when compared with other European currencies,” said Simon Franklin, Daily Rates Manager for ECA International. “Geneva tops the European rankings this year due to its high hotel costs, which are partly due to high levels of tourism driving up prices. Four-star hotel accommodation in Geneva averages USD 373 per night, beating the second highest in the region, Zurich, by 10 percent.”
London has fallen from second in last year’s regional rankings to third place this year, being overtaken by Zurich.
“Over the last year, the cost of a typical business trip in Central London has fallen by around 13 percent in USD terms, with the fall in the value of the pound against the US dollar contributing to this,” stated Franklin. “Tourism and international business travel to the city have been boosted by the pound’s decline. However, in local terms, Central London has actually become more expensive over the last 12 months with four-star hotels, meals and transport costs increasing, which is bad news for UK nationals travelling to the capital.”
Updated annually, ECA’s Daily Rates reports provide average costs for hotel accommodation, which makes up the bulk of any daily allowance, as well as meals, drinks, laundry, taxi transport and daily essentials. This information is used by companies to determine daily expense allowances for staff who undertake business travel.
“Costs commonly incurred during business trips include accommodation, transport, meals and day-to-day necessities,” advised Franklin. “Looking at four-star hotel accommodation, Geneva and Paris are the only locations that charge higher rates than Central London, with equivalent hotels in Zurich costing similar on average at USD 331.”
Paris comes in at fourth position in this year’s regional rankings. While the cost of a typical meal out and incidental expenditure are more expensive in Central London and Zurich, higher costs associated with hotel accommodation in Paris contribute to its ranking as the fourth-most expensive location in Europe to undertake a business trip.
Excluding Central London, all other UK cities have plummeted in this year’s regional rankings. Aberdeen (22nd), Edinburgh (31st), Manchester (47th) and Birmingham (54th) have all fallen dramatically owing to the pound’s decline against the dollar. On average, ranked UK locations have fallen by 19 places.
The cheapest location in Europe for business travel is Sarajevo. On average, four-star hotel costs are 72 percent cheaper there than in Geneva.
Business travel – excluding hotel costs
When hotel costs are excluded, the most expensive locations in Europe for business travellers are slightly different, although Geneva still tops the rankings. London falls to 12th in the regional rankings.
“When it comes to a business traveller’s daily expenditure on incidental costs such as transport, meals and beverages, Swiss cities dominate the top five in the region,” adds Franklin.
Oslo is ranked sixth in the region, Copenhagen eighth, Paris 14th, Stockholm 15th and Brussels 16th based on non-hotel business-travel costs.
The cheapest locations in the region for business travellers, once hotel costs are excluded, are Minsk, Tirana and Chisinau.
“Companies have different ways to ensure costs incurred by employees during business trips are covered, whether by reimbursement or provision of daily allowances to meet such expenditure,” advised Franklin. “As we have seen over the past 12 months, with Zurich overtaking London as the second-most expensive location, it’s important companies review allowances or reimbursement rates for travelling employees regularly to make sure they are neither under- nor over-compensating for business trips.”
UK office space slashed as hybrid working looks set to stay
With hybrid predicted to be the working model of the future, and businesses both large and small announcing that WFH will continue for employees into the future, the traditional office space is being re-thought.
Businesses are both questioning how much space they need for a hybrid working future, especially if it means they can potentially save money, and what form that space should take.
UK firms slashing office space
Back as early as February, HSBC – whose real estate footprint currently stretches to around 112 football pitches worldwide – said it would be cutting its post-COVID office space by half globally and by 40% in London over the next few years, as it looks to implementation of a hybrid working model in light of the pandemic.
Lloyds Bank followed suit. Following an internal survey where 77% of employees said they wanted to continue to work for 3+ days a week post-pandemic, the bank announced it was also moving to a hybrid model, and so looking to cut its office space by 20% over the next two years.
In fact, the latest research from consulting firm PwC reveals that a third of organisations surveyed (258 of the UK’s largest companies) believe they will reduce their office footprint by more than 30%.
The findings of PwC’s Occupier Survey indicate there is likely to be a sizeable fall in occupied office space with half of executives surveyed saying that despite taking into account mass vaccinations, employees will continue to work virtually 2-3 days a week.
And companies continue to announce the hybrid working model for their employees. Accountancy firm EY has just announced that its 17,000 employees are moving to a hybrid way of working, WFH for at least two days a week. This follows PwC which in March said workers could stay at home for half the time and KPMG which this month said it would expect employees to only work two days in the office every week.
More collaborative work spaces
However, what’s also clear from PwC’s research is that the role of the office is not going to disappear completely, but instead adapt to a new way of working, with half of all organisations with more than 100 employees saying they have a real estate and workplace strategy that considers the long-term impact of COVID-19.
“We may see an increased demand for flexible space as many businesses operating models may well need that option if holding dead space is to be avoided,” says Angus Johnson, UK Real Estate Leader at PwC UK.
According to the survey, more than three quarters of respondents said they are likely to reconfigure existing office with 43% of financial services firms stating that they are extremely likely to do so as a result of the pandemic.
“It’s also clear that the nature and purpose of office space is going to change. As occupiers seek new, different space to meet their accommodation needs, environmental aspects will be increasingly important. If the real estate sector is to truly succeed as a more dynamic, greener industry it’s imperative that creative thinking comes to the fore.”
And companies are already thinking creatively how they can utilise office space in a hybrid future. So while HSBC is cutting a significant amount of office space, it is not downsizing its prestigious Canary Wharf headquarters, and instead reimagining the space. In April, CEO Noel Quinn announced the firm was embracing an open plan floor, with no designated desks or private offices, and instead using hot-desks in line with the future hybrid working style. “My leadership team and I have moved to a fully open-plan floor of the building in east London with no designated desks,” he said on LinkedIn.
Lloyds also reported it was adapting its office space, so that rather than individual offices, it will have a more collaborative workspace. And just last month, KPMG announced it too was ditching desks and individual offices, and replacing them with meeting rooms and conference halls for a more collaborative workspace.