In a survey of corporate travel managers conducted earlier this month, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) found that 74% of business travelers have most or all business or corporate travel limited by business concerns. coronavirus.
A percentage down from the 93% recorded in mid-April, but still very far from a dramatic recovery. In the new survey, 93% also said that all or most of their company's international business travel is still low anyway.
Although three-quarters of respondents said their companies are slowly starting to put together a travel recovery plan, "The return to business travel remains slow and takes longer than expected", GBTA said.
It is not the only study to say this
Another study on business travel trends from McKinsey & Co. came to the same conclusion, based on interviews with corporate travel planners. "The pandemic continues and travel industry operators await a recovery, but our research shows that the return to pre-crisis values will take years and that business travel will return at a much slower pace than leisure travel", the company concluded.
A dramatic and crucial figure for cash-strapped airlines and hotels in big cities, which depend on business travel. McKinsey estimated that corporate travel passengers contribute to the supply by 55 to 75% of the typical profits of a large airline, even if they represent only 10% of its passengers.
"Given the volatility of business travel patterns in addition to significant advances in technology and modern connectivity", McKinsey said (referring to travel alternatives such as video conferencing on Zoom), "the economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic will have critical implications for the rebound in corporate travel, and indicates a very long way to go for the industry." The company noted that after the 2008-2009 global recession, which impacted travel far less than the current pandemic, international leisure travel took 2 years to recover, but international business travel is not. returned to the previous volume for five years.
Business travel, the long (and perhaps impossible) return to normalcy
While many travelers may have personal safety concerns regarding returning to the skies, their corporate employers also have a legal responsibility to protect them.
According to GBTA, many of its member companies are tightening the rules for employees traveling in the wake of the pandemic. More than half said they have imposed new requirements for pre-trip approvals. 35% requires "more frequent or detailed communications or pre-trip briefings". The 24% began collecting health information from employees.
Corporate travel, obstacles
On the international side, the biggest obstacle to business travel is the adoption of strict entry bans and / or mandatory quarantines by most nations of the world.
Another problem that hinders the resumption of all business travel is the budget. Many companies have cut travel budgets along with other expenses to cope with financial hardship due to the recession.
McKinsey research shows that business travel is likely to return in stages. This depends on the distance traveled, the reason for the trip and the type of activity.
In terms of distance, the first take will be represented by regional trips with personal or rented cars, followed a little further by domestic air travel and finally, but the timing here gets a lot more vague, come on international air travel depending on what happens with the government restrictions, the company said.
Analyzing the motives for various business trips, McKinsey predicts that "in-person sales or customer meetings and essential business operations" will return first, followed by internal small group meetings and training sessions.
The latest will be industry conferences, trade fairs and other major events.
On business types, researchers expect corporate travel in the manufacturing, pharmaceutical and construction sectors to pick up sooner. Technology, real estate, finance and energy will follow. Finally, possibly, health care, education and professional services.
While conferences and trade shows are difficult networking opportunities to conduct virtually, they are also high-risk. This is given the number of participants, which can range from several hundred to hundreds of thousandsMcKinsey Report
In summary, from reading so many clues and reports: the last segment of business travel to recover will be that of giant conventions and fairs. Especially those that attract a large international audience.