There continues to be small signs of optimism in the travel sector according to new research by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). Health and safety measures, while always a cornerstone of travel, are now of significant importance as the industry tries to gain momentum for recovery.
“People aren’t going to travel until they feel safe. Our member companies want to see several health and safety steps taken at every stage of the travel process, from ground transportation, to airlines, to hotels," said GBTA CEO Scott Solombrino, in an official release. "As restrictions across the globe begin to lift, small green shoots of optimism are sprouting in the industry with more than half (54 percent) of companies considering resuming all travel in the near future. That is a positive, albeit small, sign that we are finally headed in the right direction.”
Among the poll’s key findings are:
Most GBTA member companies who report canceling or suspending most or all trips to a specific region/country plan to resume business travel in the new future or are considering resuming travel. One in four GBTA member companies report their company plans to resume travel to the United States (28 percent) and/or Canada (24 percent) in the near future; however, four in 10 report their company is considering resuming travel to the United States (44 percent), Europe (43 percent) and Canada (41 percent) in the near future but currently do not have definitive plans about when travel will resume.
In addition, half (54 percent) of GBTA member companies are considering resuming all travel (regardless of country or region) in the near future, although they do not currently have definitive plans for when it will resume. Only 14 percent of GBTA member companies report they do not plan to resume all travel in the near future.
GBTA member companies are strategic in their planning for a resumption of domestic business travel. Many plan to initially resume travel to specific states/regions and limit travel in other areas, while other member companies plan to wait until they feel comfortable resuming travel anywhere in the country. One-third (35 percent) of U.S.-based GBTA member companies report they will resume travel in some states or regions but will continue to limit travel in other states or regions. Another four in 10 (43 percent) will wait until they feel comfortable resuming travel anywhere in the United States.
Half (50 percent) of non-U.S. members say their company will wait until the feel comfortable resuming domestic business travel throughout the country, while one-third (36 percent) say they will allow travel in some areas or regions of the country but continue to limit travel in other regions of the country.
GBTA member companies expect their employees will be willing to travel for the first six months after restrictions are lifted. A majority (62 percent) believe most or some employees will be willing to travel after restrictions are lifted. Many GBTA member companies report they allow some essential business travel. Almost one in four (37 percent) allow for some essential business travel, while over half (56 percent) have canceled or suspended all business travel.
When asked what steps hotels can take to help alleviate concerns about traveler health and safety, increase cleaning standards to exceed current cleaning protocols (80 percent), require employees to wear face masks (55 percent), provide additional staff training about COVID-19 sanitary practices and incident reporting (53 percent), increase communication about hotel sanitation practices (44 percent), require guests wear face masks in common areas (43 percent) and enforce physical distancing guidelines (43 percent) were most frequently cited. Other actions hotels can take to help alleviate health and safety concerns include:
- Provide guests with safety information concerning their hotel stay (40 percent)
- Place signs throughout the property to remind guests and employees of best sanitation practices (35 percent)
- Provide face masks to guests (24 percent)
- Change guest room housekeeping to be called upon request (20 percent)
GBTA members feel the ground transportation industry can take several steps to help alleviate concerns about their employee’s health and safety while traveling for business. Key actions include increase cleaning standards to exceed current standards (70 percent), provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to customers (68 percent), require drivers to wear face masks and gloves (58 percent), install a partition to separate the passenger from the driver (52 percent) and train drivers about sanitary practices (43 percent). Other actions ground transportation companies can take to help alleviate health and safety concerns include:
- Provide additional staff training about COVID-19 sanitary practices and incident reporting (36 percent)
- Require passengers to wear face masks and gloves (34 percent)
- Provide more communication and information concerning cleaning protocols (28 percent)
- Require drivers to stay in the driver’s seat and not assist with luggage or open the door (27 percent)
- Provide face masks and gloves to passengers (16 percent)
When asked what airlines can do to help alleviate GBTA member company concerns about traveler health and safety, key actions include: increase airplane cleaning standards to ensure every traveler touchpoint is sanitized before each flight (76 percent), require passengers to wear face masks (60 percent), keep the middle seats empty (59 percent), require employees wear face masks and gloves (52 percent) and provide all passengers with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes (47 percent). Other actions airlines can take to help alleviate health and safety concerns include:
- Provide additional staff training about COVID-19 sanitary practices and incident reporting (27 percent)
- Provide all passengers with face masks (23 percent)
- Suspend or reduce in-flight food and beverage service (17 percent)
Thinking about information needs as they pertain to supplier cleaning and sanitation practices, half (48 percent) of GBTA member companies feel they have enough information while one-third (36 percent) would like more. Only 15 percent say they do not have enough information. GBTA member companies in North America (51 percent) are more likely than member companies based in Europe (32 percent) to say they have enough information on supplier cleaning and sanitation practices.
GBTA conducted a poll of its members across the globe from May 13-15, 2020. A total of 1,705 responses were received.