Business Travel Is ‘Surging Forward,’ Says Latest GBTA Survey
Research also shows willingness to travel and revamp in corporate policies >>
by: Harvey Chipkin
Business travel is “surging forward, international travel is returning, and despite new challenges, industry recovery is entrenched,” according to the latest Business Travel Recovery Poll from the Global Business Travel Association, done in March. In addition, according to the research, corporate travel policies are being revamped and employees are broadly willing to travel for business. Suzanne Neufang, CEO, said the survey shows significant gains in the return of business travel, especially over the past month or two. Booking levels and travel spending continue to increase, and there are high levels of optimism and employee willingness to travel for business. This comes, she said, even as the industry faces challenges beyond COVID-19, including rising fuel prices, inflation, supply chain disruption and war in Ukraine. Among the findings:
The number of companies that report they at least sometimes allow nonessential domestic business travel has increased to 86%, up from 73% in GBTA’s February poll. International travel made a big jump, with 74% reporting their company now allows it, up 26 percentage points from February.
Companies continue to resume international business travel, with only 45% saying they have canceled or suspended most or all international business trips, 26 points fewer than the 71% in February. In addition, only 1 in 5 respondents (20%) report they have canceled or suspended most or all domestic business travel, compared with 33% in February.
A majority (88%) of suppliers and travel management companies (TMCs) report their bookings have increased in the prior month. This is much higher than the share that said the same in February (45%). On average, travel buyers say their company’s travel bookings are currently at 56% of the pre-pandemic level, up 22 points from February.
Four in 10 (41%) GBTA stakeholders say their company’s return to the office directly correlates to the return to business travel. Over half (55%) of respondents say their company has implemented a permanent back-to-office policy. One-quarter (23%) report their employees will be full-time in-office, and over half (52%) will be hybrid, with working days spent between office and home. Two-plus years into the pandemic, 26% report their company has not yet announced a permanent policy. An additional 12% say employees will have the choice whether to return to the office or not.
Nine in 10 (94%) GBTA buyers and procurement professionals feel their employees are “willing” or “very willing” to travel for business in the current environment, up from 82% in the February poll.
The pandemic forced many companies to rethink their business travel programs. A majority (80%) of travel managers report the pandemic has driven changes to their company’s travel policies in some capacity, including:
Fewer business trips overall: 39%
Employees take fewer business trips, but with more goals assigned to each trip: 37%
More trip approval requirements: 24%
A reevaluation of how employees travel for business (i.e., safety considerations, types of transport, sustainable hotel stays, etc.): 23%