Friday, August 14, 2020

There continues to be small signs of optimism in the travel sector according to new research issued on May 20, 2020, by the business travel and meetings trade organization Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). Health and safety measures have always been a cornerstone of travel and are now of significant importance as the industry tries to gain momentum for recovery.

GBTA Travel Poll

“People aren’t going to travel until they feel safe,” said GBTA CEO Scott Solombrino. “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. As restrictions across the globe begin to lift, small green shoots of optimism are sprouting in the industry with more than half (54%) 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.”

To understand the coronavirus’s effects on business travel, GBTA conducted its seventh poll among membership between May 13 and 15, receiving 1,705 responses from GBTA member companies throughout the world. View the poll results.

Key Findings
Most GBTA member companies that 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 report their company plans to resume travel to the U.S. (28%) and/or Canada (24%) in the near future.
  • Four in 10 report their company is considering resuming travel to the U.S. (44%), Europe (43%), and Canada (41%) in the near future, but currently do not have definitive plans about when travel will resume.
  • Half (54%) 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. In addition, only one in 10 (14%) report they do not plan to resume all travel in the near future.

Plans to Resume Business Travel

Destination Plan to Resume in Near Future Considering Resuming in Near Future, But No Definite Plans Do Not Plan to Resume in Near Future Not Sure
China 11% 34% 36% 19%
Hong Kong 9% 36% 35% 20%
Taiwan 9% 35% 36% 21%
Asia Pacific (minus China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) 11% 36% 34% 19%
Europe 16% 43% 25% 16%
Latin America 11% 37% 32% 19%
United States 28% 44% 16% 12%
Canada 24% 41% 20% 16%
Middle East/Africa 9% 36% 35% 20%
All International Travel 10% 42% 29% 19%
All Domestic Travel 35% 45% 10% 11%
All Travel 15% 54% 14% 17%

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 others plan to wait until they feel comfortable resuming travel anywhere in the country.

  • One-third (35%) of U.S.-based 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%) will wait until they feel comfortable resuming travel anywhere in the U.S.
  • Half (50%) of non-U.S. members say they will wait until the feel comfortable resuming domestic business travel throughout the country, while one-third (36%) say they will allow travel in some areas or regions of the country but continue to limit travel in other regions of the country.
  • These companies expect their employees will be willing to travel for the first six months after restrictions are lifted. A majority (62%) believe most or some employees will be willing to travel after restrictions are lifted.
  • Many report they allow some essential business travel. Almost one in four (37%) allow for some essential business travel, while more than half (56%) have canceled or suspended all business travel.

Hotels/Lodging
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%), require employees to wear face masks (55%), provide additional staff training about COVID-19 sanitary practices and incident reporting (53%), increase communication about hotel sanitation practices (44%), require guests wear face masks in common areas (43%), and enforce physical distancing guidelines (43%) were most frequently cited.

Ground Transportation
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%), provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to customers (68%), require drivers to wear face masks and gloves (58%), install a partition to separate the passenger from the driver (52%) and train drivers about sanitary practices (43%). 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%)
  • Require passengers to wear face masks and gloves (34%)
  • Provide more communication and information concerning cleaning protocols (28%)
  • Require drivers to stay in the driver’s seat and not assist with luggage or open the door (27%)
  • Provide face masks and gloves to passengers (16%)
GBTA Travel Poll

Air Travel
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%), require passengers to wear face masks (60%), keep the middle seats empty (59%), require employees wear face masks and gloves (52%) and provide all passengers with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes (47%). 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%)
  • Provide all passengers with face masks (23%)
  • Suspend or reduce in-flight food and beverage service (17%) 

What Will Make Companies Feel More Comfortable About Traveler Health and Safety

Actions Airlines Hotel Ground Transportation
1 Increase cleaning/sanitation protocols—76% Increase cleaning standards—80% Increase cleaning standards—70%
2 Require passengers wear masks—60% Require staff wear masks—55% Provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes—68%
3 Keep middle seats empty—59% Provide staff additional COVID-19 sanitary training—53% Require drivers wear masks and gloves —58%
4 Require staff wear masks and gloves—52% Increase communication about hotel sanitation practices—44% Install partition between driver and passengers—52%
5 Provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes—47% Enforce physical distancing and require guests wear face masks in common areas—43% (each) Train drivers on sanitary practices—43%

Thinking about information needs as they pertain to supplier cleaning and sanitation practices, half (48%) of respondents feel they have enough information while one-third (36%) would like more. Only one in 10 (15%) say they do not have enough information. GBTA member companies in North America (51%) are more likely than member companies based in Europe (32%) to say they have enough information on supplier cleaning and sanitation practices.

Methodology
GBTA conducted a poll of its members across the globe from May 13-15, 2020.  A total of 1,705 responses were received.

Visit gbta.org for more information. 

[05.20.20]