Business travel is surging forward, international travel is returning and despite new challenges, industry recovery is entrenched, according to the latest poll conducted by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). The association has been regularly surveying business travel buyers, suppliers, and other stakeholders since the pandemic began.
“We’re seeing significant gains in the return of business travel, especially over the past month or two. GBTA’s global data show more companies are allowing domestic and now also international employee travel. Booking levels and travel spending continue to return, and there’s high levels of optimism and employee willingness to travel for business. This comes even as the industry faces challenges beyond COVID, including rising fuel prices, inflation, supply chain disruption, and war in Ukraine,” said GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang.
Some key highlights from the poll:
- Double-Digit Increases, 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 their company now allows it, up 26 points from February.
- Corporate Travel Bookings Return. A majority (88 percent) of suppliers and travel management companies (TMCs) report their bookings have increased in the prior month (compared to 45 percent in February). On average, travel buyers say their company’s travel bookings are currently at 56 percent of the pre-pandemic level, up 22 points from February.
- Spending Recovery Forecast. 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.
- Back in the Office, Back on the Road. Four in ten (41 percent) say their company’s return to the office directly correlates to the return to business travel. More than half (55 percent) say their company has implemented a permanent back-to-office policy. One-quarter (23 percent) report their employees will be full-time in-office, and over half (52 percent) will be hybrid with working days spent between office and home.
- Policies Changing With the Times. A majority (80 percent) of travel managers report the pandemic has driven changes to their company’s travel policies in some capacity, including fewer business trips overall (39 percent), more trip approval requirements (24 percent), and a re-evaluation of how employees travel for business (23 percent).
- Inflation’s Impact. Forty-one percent of companies report they have increased employee travel spending for air travel, 34 percent for hotel stays, 33 percent for car rentals, and 26 percent for ground transportation.
- Factoring in Sustainable Travel. 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).
- Masks on Planes: Who Should Decide. Global sentiment around mask mandates on commercial airplanes varies. Two in five (41 percent) say governments should require passengers to wear masks on airplanes, while a third (32 percent) feel each airline should be allowed to decide if passengers are required to wear masks. One in five (20 percent) feel governments should prohibit mask mandates (i.e., allow passengers to fly on any airline without masks). Note that the survey was conducted prior to the mask mandate being struck down in the US.
Visit gbta.org for more information.