Stats: 72% of GBTA Buyers Willing to Travel

A new poll from Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) indicates that there is optimism about the return of business travel despite the uncertainty and concern surrounding the rising cases of the Delta and other COVID variants. The poll is the 22nd edition in a series tracking the pulse of GBTA’s members. 

Suzanne Neufang, CEO, GBTA said in a press release that business travel was showing small gains and great resilience and adaptability on the road to recovery. 

Key Findings

In the August poll, 72 percent GBTA travel buyers felt their employees are “willing” or “very willing” to travel for business in the current environment. In terms of travel in the past 30 days, 60 percent reported it is “sometimes” or “usually” allowed.

More than 50 percent of GBTA members and stakeholders expect business travel to witness a significant (8 percent) or moderate (47 percent) increase in the September to November 2021 time frame. Respondents from Europe (75 percent) are more likely than those in North America (51 percent) to expect that business travel will see a significant or moderate increase in this timeframe.

When travel buyers and procurement professionals were asked how company travel spend had changed compared to the prior month, 56 percent reported their company’s spending increased “somewhat” to “a lot.” When travel suppliers and travel management companies were asked about their bookings in the previous week, 46 percent said bookings had remained the same.

Poll respondents reported a slight increase in re-opening international and domestic travel versus the month prior. In the current poll, 78 percent had not opened international travel, compared to 86 percent in July. Forty-one percent have not re-opened domestic travel, versus 50 percent last month. Fifty-one percent reported they continue to suspend or cancel all business travel regardless of location, down from 60 percent in the July poll.

Only 21 percent of GBTA stakeholders say their company has introduced new restrictions on non-essential business travel at this point. Respondents from Europe (66 percent) are more likely than those in North America (45 percent) to report their company is unlikely to introduce new restrictions on non-essential business travel, specifically as a result of the Delta variant (or other variants) and/or the growing number of COVID-19 cases in many countries.

Thirty four percent of supplier and travel management company respondents say they are optimistic about the financial prospects of companies in the business travel sector, but less so compared to a month ago. An additional 38 percent says they feel “neither optimistic nor pessimistic,” but 26 percent say they feel pessimistic about the industry’s financial prospects.

GBTA stakeholders are “concerned” or “very concerned” about the revenue impact the Delta variant poses to companies when it comes to revenue in the business travel sector (85 percent), employment/re-hiring (79 percent) and the safety of business travel (78 percent). Forty-four percent felt it would have a “very negative” impact, while 37 percent indicated it would have a “moderate” negative impact. In terms of bookings,  31 percent reported a decrease, compared to the prior week, versus three percent in the July poll.  

Travel Vaccination Policies and Employee Safety Protocols 

Almost 50 percent of respondents said vaccine requirements to perform key business functions are not typically required. Approximately 25 percent reported their company requires employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to travel domestically for business (21 percent), meet customers face-to-face (22 percent), work in the office (20 percent) and attend large meetings, conferences or events (22 percent). However, approximately one in four report they are unsure about their company’s vaccine requirements for travel for key business functions.

Respondents from Europe (66 percent) are more likely than those in North America (52 percent) to report their company will not require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before they can meet with clients and customers face-to-face. Sixty-two percent in Europe are more likely than those in North America (49 percent) to report their company will not require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before they can attend large (more than 500 attendees) meetings or events.

Most respondents (79 percent) report their company has procedures in place for contact tracing, should an employee become infected with COVID-19. Only 21 percent report their company does not have procedures in place for contact tracing. 

Methodology: GBTA conducted a poll of its members and other industry stakeholders across the globe from August 9-19, 2021. A total of 678 responses were received. 

Source: GBTA

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