Metros with the highest share of business travelers and their top destinations

TravelPerk used data from the National Household Travel Survey to rank metro areas by long-distance business trips.

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Whether emerging tech hubs or venture capital havens, business travel destinations are about as diverse as the travelers' origins. Like so many other industries, though, business travel has changed in the post-pandemic era, with new traveler itineraries and destinations, transportation protocols, and frequency of travel.

In the mass shift to remote work, many businesses welcomed virtual meetings as sufficient alternatives to in-person ones requiring costly travel. And some companies let employees choose whether or not to attend business trips in person.

Those trends continue, even as businesses nationwide further reduce travel budgets in the name of sustainability. Deloitte estimates that by 2025, 3 in 10 companies will have reduced their travel budgets by more than 11%. Though a return to pre-pandemic spend volume by around late 2024 is likely "adjusting for lost growth and inflation indicates that in real terms, corporate travel will likely be smaller than it was prior to the pandemic," according to a 2023 study by Deloitte. Business travel remains a vital component of entrepreneurship, providing opportunities for in-person networking, market research, and dealmaking

Using data from the Federal Highway Administration's National Household Travel Survey, TravelPerk determined which metro areas recorded the most long-distance business trips in 2021, the latest year for which data is available. Metros are ranked by the share of work trips 300 miles or greater and rounded to the nearest 10th of a percent.

Where business travelers are coming from

A bar chart showing the metro areas with the greatest share of workers who travel long distances.

TravelPerk

During the COVID-19 pandemic, American workers gravitated away from major metro cities such as Los Angeles and New York City, in part to avoid areas with high population density and transmission rates.

That exodus also reflected a shift in priorities as the proliferation of remote work led residents to hunt for larger, more affordable homes. Some cities that welcomed relocators are now home to those who travel the most for work, including Las Vegas and Denver.

#15. Ann Arbor, Michigan

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.0% (708,930 trips)
- Top destination: Raleigh, North Carolina (166,155 trips)

Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, renowned for its research programs. The institution is the top employer in the city, followed by its accompanying health care system. Thus, it is no surprise that Raleigh, one-third of North Carolina's Research Triangle, is the top destination for Ann Arbor workers.

#14. Albuquerque, New Mexico

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.1% (2,124,090 trips)
- Top destination: Chicago (922,579 trips)

The largest city in New Mexico is home to a variety of diverse industries, including agriculture in the Rio Grande River valley and military research and development at the Kirtland Air Force Base. The city is also home to New Mexico's primary international airport, the Albuquerque International Sunport, which operates an average of 415 daily takeoffs and landings.

#13. Cape Coral, Florida

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.1% (1,927,728 trips)
- Top destination: Chicago (174,559 trips)

Cape Coral is a southwestern city in Florida near the Gulf of Mexico, making the tourism industry a popular employment choice. The top employer, however, is Lee Memorial Health System, one of the largest nonprofit health systems in the state.

#12. Kauai County, Hawaii

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.1% (248,506 trips)
- Top destination: Hawaii County, Hawaii (148,207 trips)

Kauai County is home to a thriving tourism industry. The top four employers in the city are hotels and resorts, led by the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. Located 305 miles away, Hawaii County hosts an annual tourism conference that draws industry professionals from inside and outside the state.

#11. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.2% (1,518,998 trips)
- Top destination: New York, New York (77,495 trips)

Many of the top employers in Myrtle Beach revolve around tourism, as the beach city attracts nearly 19 million visitors a year. However, the city is also home to an emerging aerospace workforce—an industry that has grown exponentially in the past decade—and hosts the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics training location.

#10. Orlando, Florida

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.2% (7,686,644 trips)
- Top destination: Atlanta (1,101,956 trips)

Home to Disneyland and Universal Studios, Orlando has a heavily tourism-dependent economy and workforce. The city's top employer, Walt Disney World Resort, employs over 58,000 residents. The top destination for business trips of Orlando workers is Atlanta, home to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world.

#9. Panama City, Florida

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.2% (693,145 trips)
- Top destination: Atlanta (129,748 trips)

The economy in Panama City, Florida, is largely driven by the military—the top two employers in the city are the Tyndall Air Force Base as well as Naval Support Activity Panama City. The top destination for business travelers, Atlanta, is within a two-hour flight of 80% of the United States' population.

#8. Crestview, Florida

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.2% (960,107 trips)
- Top destination: Dallas (79,798 trips)

Crestview in Okaloosa County is home to a large military presence, attracting related industries such as defense contractors and research and development. The city is just north of the largest U.S. Air Force facility in the world, Eglin Air Force Base.

#7. Juneau, Alaska

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.2% (94,311 trips)
- Top destination: Anchorage, Alaska (40,248 trips)

Nearly half of Juneau's workers are employed by the federal government since the city serves as the regional headquarters for several agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and NOAA Fisheries. The top destination for business travelers from Juneau is also in Alaska—Anchorage, home to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

#6. Salt Lake City

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.3% (3,902,861 trips)
- Top destination: Chicago (384,788 trips)

Salt Lake City is home to the University of Utah, the city's top employer with over 20,000 workers. The state's economy, overall, is one of the most diverse in the country, according to the Hachman Index of Economic Diversity.

#5. Mobile, Alabama

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.3% (1,495,069 trips)
- Top destination: Chicago (822,025 trips)

Mobile, Alabama, features a thriving trade-based economy thanks to its designation as Alabama's only seaport. The city is also home to the first of only two U.S.-based Airbus manufacturing plants.

#4. Denver

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.3% (8,779,905 trips)
- Top destination: Chicago (553,969 trips)

Denver is driven by a diverse workforce comprised of professionals in emerging fields such as fintech, bioscience, and energy. The city is experiencing rapid startup growth and is ranked 12th in the country for its startup ecosystem, according to Startup Genome.

#3. Las Vegas

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.4% (7,699,779 trips)
- Top destination: San Francisco (439,540 trips)

Apart from a nearby military base, the city's police department is the top local employer for Las Vegas residents, followed closely by a myriad of hotels and other tourism-related companies. The top business travel destination, San Francisco, is well known among professionals and entrepreneurs for its venture capital and investment opportunities.

#2. Carbondale, Illinois

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.6% (516,989 trips)
- Top destination: Chicago (451,258 trips)

Southern Illinois University and its accompanying medical system employ the most local residents by far, providing jobs to over 10,000 people. Business travelers tend to gravitate toward Chicago, home to the McCormick Place convention center, one of the largest in the country, and a go-to spot for large conferences and trade shows.

#1. Ketchikan, Alaska

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- Share of business trips over 300 miles: 1.7% (55,461 trips)
- Top destination: Seattle (32,290 trips)

Driven largely by the state's natural resources and wildlife, Ketchikan's economy serves as a transportation hub and the main source for local fishing canneries. The small city is home to the Ketchikan International Airport, which jets passengers to cities around Alaska and over to Seattle, the most popular destination for the city's business travelers.

Story editing by Jeff Inglis. Copy editing by Curtis Yee. Photo selection by Ania Antecka.

This story originally appeared on TravelPerk and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.




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