According to the latest poll from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), more companies are reporting a willingness and actual return to business travel, with domestic travel taking the lead. However, government restrictions on international travel continue to hinder the ability for companies to conduct key business functions. This poll is the 21st in a series tracking the pulse of GBTA’s membership of global travel buyers and suppliers and how the travel industry overall is managing the return to business travel, post pandemic. The poll was conducted July 6-13, 2021.
This latest poll shows a 12 percent increase compared to last month in companies opening travel and fewer companies suspending or cancelling all travel. Domestic business travel is now widely allowed and corporate bookings and travel spend continues to rise month on month. And three in four (77 percent) GBTA members and stakeholders feel their employees are ‘willing’ or ‘very willing’ to travel for business in the current environment.
However, half (52 percent) of GBTA respondents report that government policies and restrictions relating to international business travel continue to impact their companies’ ability to conduct important business functions such as networking, business prospecting, planning and sales meetings.
“There is clearly an appetite to resume non-essential business travel and in-person meetings to promote collaboration, networking and business opportunities. And interestingly, it doesn’t appear that cost savings are necessarily a key driver in waiting to get travelers back out on the road. However, government policies and restrictions on international travel continue to hinder progress in pursuing activities so important to conducting business,” said GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang.
Indicators show strong demand for business travel’s return
- Optimism steady. GBTA poll respondents continue to be optimistic about the industry’s path to recovery. Half (54 percent) report they feel more optimistic compared to a month ago whereas two in five (40 percent) say they feel the same. Only six percent say they feel more pessimistic about the industry’s path to recovery.
- Willingness to travel. Three in four (77 percent) GBTA members and stakeholders feel their employees are ‘willing’ or ‘very willing’ to travel for business in the current environment. The remaining members feel their employees are not willing (4 percent), are neutral (12 percent) or are unsure (7 percent) of their willingness to travel for business. And desire to serve their customers is a key driver, with greater willingness to travel for sales and account management (59 percent) and service trips (56 percent).
- Domestic dominates. Corporate positions concerning business travel vary. And GBTA respondents report that 57 percent of non-essential domestic business trips are usually or sometimes allowed, compared to 26 percent for non-essential international business trips.
- Getting back out there. Of the companies that suspended most domestic business trips, nine in 10 plan to resume domestic travel in the near future or are considering resuming domestic travel but have no definite plans. Three in ten plan to resume international travel within 1-3 months and half are considering resuming international travel soon but have no definite plans. One in ten do not plan to resume international business travel in the near future.
Restrictions continue to hinder international travel and hence business functions
Government policies and restrictions relating to international business travel continues to impact GBTA member companies and their ability to carry out important business functions. Over half (52 percent) of GBTA member and stakeholders report that networking, business prospecting (51 percent) and business planning and strategizing (50 percent) are impacted by these policies.
Respondents based in Europe were more likely to cite the impact of government policies and restrictions on key business functions compared to those based in North America. And it was significantly higher regarding the ability to network, conduct sales meetings and train or develop employees.
You can view more details and key highlights from GBTA’s July 2021 poll here.
Visit gbta.org for more information.