There’s reason for some optimism as the Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) 18th COVID-19 poll revealed ‘multiple positive signs’ for the business travel recovery.
GBTA found that nearly one-quarter of poll respondents report that their company has resumed non-essential business travel, or that the company has in place a plan to resume travel.
Positive signs included:
- An increase in willingness to travel
- A decrease in trips cancelled
- A more optimistic view towards returning to the road as travel bookings continue to increase.
The poll reported that there was positive momentum for business travel with:
- About one in ten (9%) poll respondents saying that their company has already resumed non-essential business travel, while an additional 13% report their company now has in place a fully developed travel-resumption plan. Additionally, 31% of respondents say their company is actively working on a travel-resumption plan, while 20% say their company has begun the process, but has more work to do. Only 18% report no formal planning underway, while 7% reported being unsure.
- Two-thirds (65%) of poll respondents feel their employees are ‘’willing’’ or ‘’very willing’’ to travel for business in the current environment, an increase of 11 percentage points from the March 2021 GBTA poll results. The remaining corporate travel buyer and/or procurement respondents feel their employees are not willing (12%) or neutral (12%) in terms of their willingness to travel for business. In addition, one in ten (11%) are unsure.
- Positive signs in the United States were further underscored by responses to the April 2, 2021, travel guidance update by the Centers For Disease Control, which recommended “that fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk to themselves.” More than six in 10 U.S. respondents said the new CDC guidance makes them much more (29%) or somewhat more (32%) comfortable travelling for business. Another third (32%) report the CDC announcement has not changed their opinion. Only four percent feel less comfortable traveling for business.
- Half of U.S.-based corporate travel buyer and procurement respondents feel recent CDC guidelines will have a ‘major’ or ‘some’ influence on their company’s timeline for resuming non-essential domestic business travel. Another one-third say the new guidelines will have a minor (18%) or no influence (15%) on their company’s timeline. One in ten (14%) say they are unsure.
- Globally, suppliers and travel management company respondents see optimism about the industry’s path to recovery. Half (50%) say they felt more optimistic than they did last month with four in ten (43%) saying they feel the same as they did last month. Less than one in ten (8%) say they feel more pessimistic about the industry’s path to recovery than they did last month.
- Half (50%) of supplier respondents say their bookings from corporate customers have increased in the past week, while two in five (38%) report their bookings have remained the same from the previous week. One in ten report their bookings have decreased (11%).
- Three quarters (75%) of respondents who report canceling or suspending most or all trips to a specific region/country are considering resuming travel in the near future (1-3 months) or are considering resuming travel in the near future but do not have definite plans. Among those companies, 16% report plans to “resume all travel in the next 1-3 months,” while 59% report that they are considering resuming all travel in the near future, but have no definite plans as yet.
- Seven in ten (71%) poll respondents think issuing government-issued digital health verification (or digital green certificates and/or vaccination passports) is either “very effective” or “effective” in terms of resuming business travel. Just one in ten thinks it is “ineffective” or “very ineffective” or are unsure (10%). Few are indifferent (7%) about the policy. Respondents from Europe are more likely (81%) than respondents from North America (68%) to say issuing digital health verification (or digital green certificates and/or vaccination passports) is effective in terms of resuming business travel.
Commenting on the findings, GBTA CEO, Suzanne Neufang observed: “It is encouraging to see key indicators all pointing towards a return to business travel, as organizations collaborate internally across multiple functions to ensure a safe return for their travelers and commuters.”
Neufang added: “Many companies have also revisited their work-from-home policies due to the pandemic, and in many cases are making a permanent change that will remain in effect even after the pandemic. It’s clear the way we manage and conduct business will be noticeably different moving forward.”
Go to https://www.gbta.org/research-tools/covid-19-member-polls to see the complete results of the poll.