Over the past several months, the world watched the global business travel industry come to a halt—but according to new research by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), there are signs of optimism and recovery on the horizon. The study found that most companies are planning a recovery for 2020 with one in three planning for a recovery in three months or less.
Among the poll’s key findings are:
Most companies are working on a recovery plan in 2020. One-third (35 percent) of GBTA members say they expect for their company’s post-coronavirus recovery plan to begin in three months or fewer, while a quarter (27 percent) say they plan for a post-recovery in six to eight months. In addition, only one in ten are planning for recovery in 2021, while one in four (28 percent) report they do not know.
Among GBTA members who report their company has canceled at least some domestic business trips, six in ten (62 percent) say they expect domestic travel to resume in the next two to three months. Eighteen and 19 percent, respectively, report they expect domestic travel to resume in the next six to eight months or are unsure. With that said, GBTA European members (74 percent) are more likely than members based in North America (58 percent) to expect domestic business travel will return in two to months. In addition, members based in North America (21 percent) are more likely to be unsure when domestic business travel will resume compared to members based in Europe (12 percent).
Eight in ten European members expect international business travel will resume in two to three months (33 percent) or six to eight months (47 percent). Two-thirds of GBTA members in North America expect international travel to resume in two to three months (26) or six to eight months (38 percent). A majority of GBTA members (88 percent) expect employees will be willing to travel once restrictions are lifted. GBTA members from North America (90 percent) are more likely than members from Europe (83 percent) to expect their employees will be willing to travel after restrictions are lifted.
Looking at what it will likely take GBTA members to feel comfortable with employees traveling for business, popular responses included: A decline in new infection rates (92 percent); governments lifting travel restrictions or advisories (91 percent); guidelines or statements from public health agencies such as the WHO or CDC (90 percent); effective anti-viral treatments (89 percent); removing stay-at-home lockdowns (88 percent); a new coronavirus vaccine developed and available to employees (85 percent); advice from a risk management firm/consultant (60 percent); and other companies allowing travel (49 percent).
GBTA supplier member optimism about the industry’s path to recovery vary. One in five (19 percent) say they are more optimistic than they were last week, while six in ten (57 percent) say they feel the same as they did last week. One-quarter (24 percent) feel more pessimistic about the industry’s path to recovery than they did the week prior.
GBTA member sentiment varies concerning the impact COVID-19 has had on the industry. When asked about layoffs/furloughs in the corporate travel industry, four in ten feel the worst has already happened (42 percent), while an equal number feel the worst has yet to come (41 percent). GBTA members in North America are more likely to feel the worst has already happened when it comes to layoffs and furloughs (47 percent) compared to members based in Europe (30 percent).
There is more consensus when thinking about canceled flights, with 77 percent of GBTA members stating the worst has already happened compared to 15 percent who feel the worst is yet to come.
Six in ten (62 percent) GBTA members feel the worst has already happened concerning hotels suspending operations compared to one-quarter (26 percent) who feel the worst is yet to come. GBTA members based in North America (64 percent) are more likely to feel the worst has already happened regarding hotel suspensions compared to members based in Europe (53 percent).
GBTA members are more pessimistic about revenue loss for travel companies. Over half (56 percent) feel the worst is yet to come in terms of industry revenue loss while one-third (29 percent) feel the worst has already occurred.
GBTA member companies have not opened international (98 percent) or domestic (93 percent) travel as companies continue to cancel and/or suspend almost all business travel regardless of destination. In fact, almost all GBTA member companies (57 percent) report they have suspended or canceled all business travel across the board.
GBTA conducted a poll of its members across the globe from April 17-22, 2020. An email invitation was sent to 5,638 travel professionals, and we received 1,557 responses.