Stats: Business Travel Sees Double-Digit Surge Since February

Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has released the findings of its “April Business Travel Recovery Poll”—the newest and 27th in a series of surveys—revealing that business travel is surging forward, international travel is returning and despite new challenges, industry recovery is entrenched. Additionally, corporate travel policies are being revamped and employees are willing to travel for business.

GBTA conducted this poll among its members and other business travel industry professionals including travel buyers and travel suppliers across the globe from  April 4-13, 2022.  A total of 520 responses were received. Here are the results from the “April Business Travel Recovery” poll.

The poll revealed double-digit increases and international travel jumps. Companies that report they at least sometimes allow non-essential domestic business travel has increased to 86 percent, up from 73 percent in GBTA’s February poll. International travel made a big jump with 74 percent reporting that their company now allows it, up 26 percentage points from February.

Companies continue to resume international business travel, with only 45 percent saying they have canceled or suspended most or all international business trips, 27 points less than the 71 percent in February. Additionally, only one in five respondents (20 percent) reported they have canceled or suspended most or all domestic business travel, compared to 33 percent in February. Of the companies who previously canceled or suspended most or all trips to a specific region/country, 75 percent plan to resume domestic travel and 52 percent international travel in the next one to three months.

A majority (88 percent) of suppliers and travel management companies (TMCs) reported that their bookings have increased in the prior month. This is much higher than the share who said the same in February (45 percent). On average, travel buyers say their company’s travel bookings are at 56 percent of the pre-pandemic level, up 22 points from February.

When asked to characterize their company’s spending on business travel compared to 2019, on average, respondents expect their company will be back to 59 percent of their pre-pandemic spend by the end of 2022 and will reach 79 percent by the end of 2023.

Four in ten (41 percent) GBTA stakeholders said their company’s return to the office directly correlates to the return to business travel. Over half (55 percent) of respondents said their company has implemented a permanent back-to-office policy. One-quarter (23 percent) reported their employees will be full-time in-office, and over half (52 percent) will be hybrid with working days spent between office and home. Two-plus years into the pandemic, 26 percent report their company has not yet announced a permanent policy. An additional one in ten (12 percent) said employees would have the choice whether to return to the office or not.

Nine in ten (94 percent) GBTA buyers and procurement professionals feel their employees are “willing” or “very willing’ to travel for business in the current environment, up from 82 percent in the February poll. No respondent in any region of the world feels their employees are not willing to travel for business in the current environment.

The pandemic forced many companies to rethink their business travel program. A majority (80 percent) of travel managers reported the pandemic has driven changes to their company’s travel policies in some capacity, including: fewer business trips overall (39 percent); employees take fewer business trips, but with more goals assigned to each trip (37 percent); more trip approval requirements (24 percent); a re-evaluation of how employees travel for business i.e., safety considerations, types of transport, sustainable hotel stays, etc. (23 percent).

Many companies are increasing their business travel spend in the wake of inflation. Forty-one percent reported they have increased employee travel spending for air travel, 34 percent for hotel stays, 33 percent for car rentals and 26 percent for ride share and taxis.

Corporate travel managers recognize sustainability will impact their travel program. The most frequently cited expectations include fewer trips per employee overall (54 percent) and longer, multi-purpose business trips (43 percent) and more rail and multi-modal options (34 percent). However, most travel buyers (61 percent) do not expect their company will restrict the frequency of flying in business class. European buyers (71 percent) are significantly more likely than their North American counterparts (47 percent) to say their plans will likely include fewer trips per employee, and they are more likely (59 percent) than North American buyers (36 percent) to say sustainability considerations will include longer trips.

As employees return to business travel, many have faced hurdles as they get back in the air and on the road. GBTA stakeholders most often report they and/or their colleagues have experienced confusion on travel restrictions/travel documentation (63 percent), are more anxious or stressed about business travel (45 percent) or have had challenges when navigating airports and security rules (36 percent).

Global sentiment around mask mandates on commercial airplanes varies. Two in five GBTA stakeholders (41 percent) said governments should require passengers to wear masks on airplanes, while a third (32 percent) felt each airline should be allowed to decide if passengers are required to wear masks. One in five (20 percent) said governments should prohibit mask mandates (i.e., allow passengers to fly on any airline without masks).

Source: GBTA

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