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New York is the most expensive business travel destination in the Americas

  • New York is 33% more expensive than the second-most expensive location Bridgetown
  • Bridgetown, Barbados comes in at second due to expensive hotel costs
  • A typical business trip in Washington DC costs 8% more than in Los Angeles and 26% less than in New York

New York is the most expensive location in the Americas for business travel. This was one of the findings of the latest Daily Rates research published by ECA International, the world's leading provider of knowledge, information and software for the management and assignment of employees around the world.

The total cost of a typical business trip to New York, excluding travel to and from the city, is USD 790 per day on average.

“New York tops the Americas rankings this year due to its expensive hotel costs, mandatory 15-20% tips during meals out and high transport & incidental costs*,” said Michael Witkowski, Vice President - Americas for ECA International. “Four-star hotel accommodation in New York averages USD 509 per night, dwarfing the second highest in the region, Bridgetown. The laws of supply and demand are at work here, with high demand for accommodation in New York meaning hoteliers are able to charge premium rates.”

Bridgetown, Barbados comes in at second position owing to expensive hotel costs, the second highest in the region.

“Hotels in Barbados that are of a suitable quality for business travellers are primarily resort hotels. They tend to have their prices inflated due to the high demand from the tourist market,” stated Witkowski.

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.

A typical business trip in Washington DC, ranked fourth in the regional rankings, costs 8% more than in eighth placed Los Angeles. It costs 26% less than in New York on average.

Honolulu makes the top ten this year, sitting in ninth position, with the total cost of a business trip here increasing by three per cent on average in the last 12 months. While the cost of four-star hotel accommodation is more expensive in Chicago, the cost of a typical meal out and transport are considerably more expensive in Honolulu, contributing to its ranking as the ninth-most expensive location in the Americas to undertake a business trip. Chicago comes in at tenth position, joint with San Jose.

The other ranked locations in the top ten remain in the same positions as last year, with New Jersey fifth, San Francisco sixth, Boston seventh and Los Angeles eighth. The average cost of four-star hotel accommodation in each of these cities has increased over the past 12 months. The total Daily Rate of all US-based cities in the top ten has increased this year owing to the strengthening of the US dollar and increased economic activity.

The cheapest location in the Americas for business travel is Caracas in Venezuela. On average, the typical cost of a business trip there is nearly 80% cheaper than in New York.

Business travel – excluding hotel costs

When hotel costs are excluded, the most expensive locations in the Americas for business travellers are slightly different, although New York still tops the rankings. Bridgetown falls to seventh and New Jersey falls out of the top ten to 13th in the regional ranking.

“When it comes to a business traveller’s daily expenditure on incidental costs such as transport, meals and beverages, US cities continue to dominate the top 20 in the region,” adds Witkowski.

The most expensive cities in Canada, Montreal and Calgary, just make the top 50 this year at 44th and 48th respectively without hotel costs (joint 45th with hotel costs included). However, all Canadian cities have fallen in the regional rankings this year due to the Canadian dollar’s relative weakening against the US dollar.

The cheapest locations in the region for business travellers, once hotel costs are excluded, remain the same with Monterrey (78th), Guadalajara (79th) and Caracas (80th) costing the least.

“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 Witkowski. “It is important companies review allowances or reimbursement rates for travelling employees regularly to make sure they are neither under- nor over-compensating for business trips.”

* These also include costs typically incurred on business trips such as entertainment. laundry and personal care. All figures have been rounded to the nearest US dollar.

About ECA's Daily Rates

ECA's Daily Rates for business travellers help organisations to anticipate the cost of business trips and short-term assignments. Globally, the Daily Rates reports for 2016-17 are available for 350 locations in 191 countries.

Each report itemises costs for the following expenses for flexibility when calculating allowances for short trips abroad:

Hotel room (3, 4 and 5 star)
Alcoholic and soft drinks
Incidental costs
Journeys by taxi

PLEASE NOTE - 4* hotel accommodation was used as the point of comparison for hotel accommodation costs in these rankings as it best represents the typical level of accommodation used by business travellers. 

To find out more about ECA's Daily Rates packages, further reading material can be found on the ECA website here

Follow ECA on twitter: @ECAintl

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