Lonely Planet Writer

San Francisco tops the list of America’s most expensive cities for business travellers

San Francisco once again ranks as America’s most expensive city for business travellers.

San Francisco International Airport at dusk
San Francisco International Airport

The City by the Bay is one of the most pro-business cities in the USA – attracting top talent, patents and corporate performance – but a report from trade publication Business Travel News reveals it is also the most expensive, with business travellers spending an average of US$547 a day.

But the biggest surprise came from Detroit, where hotel rates jumped 22.5% from 2014 to 2015. However, with a low average nightly hotel rate of US$198, Detroit remains a bargain business destination. The report, which measures the prices paid by business travellers in 100 of America’s biggest cities, found that an average hotel rate of US$370, plus high car rental and dining costs, puts San Francisco at the top of the list.

Business travel expert Joe Brancatelli cites San Francisco’s high hotel rates on the city’s expensive real estate, which is reported to be the highest in the country. He advises that businesses can keep down the cost of meetings held in California by considering nearby destinations.

Financial District San Francisco, California, USA
Financial District San Francisco, California, USA

“Say you are planning a meeting and someone says ‘Let’s have it in California,’” said Brancatelli, speaking to the Los Angeles Times. “Why not go to Los Angeles instead of San Francisco?” Los Angeles came in at No. 8 on the list with an average daily spend of US$402. San Diego ranked at No. 23 with US$348 per day, while Anaheim ranked at No. 35 with a daily spend of just US$319.

Although a more budget-friendly option to San Francisco, Los Angeles itself has seen a stark rise in costs for travellers this year. The City of Angels was recently ranked as the eighth most expensive city in the world, making it only slightly cheaper for travellers than New York City.