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Coronavirus Rattles Entire Global Travel Industry; Travel Comes To A Halt

The coronavirus continues to rattle the global business travel industry. That is according to the latest research conducted by the Global Business Travel Association. To understand the effects of coronavirus on business travel, GBTA conducted its fourth lightning poll among membership on March 18-21, 2020. It received responses from more than 1,155 member companies throughout the world. View the entire poll results here.  

Among the poll’s key findings are: 

  • Business travel has come to a halt across the globe. Companies are canceling or suspending almost all business travel due to coronavirus regardless of country or region. GBTA members report their companies have canceled or suspended “all” or “most” business trips to: 
  • China – 99 percent canceled or suspended 
  • Hong Kong – 99 percent canceled or suspended 
  • Taiwan – 98 percent canceled or suspended 
  • Other Asia-Pacific countries (e.g., Japan, South Korea and Malaysia) – 97 percent canceled or suspended 
  • Europe – 96 percent canceled or suspended 
  • Middle East/Africa – 95 percent canceled or suspended 
  • Latin America – 92 percent canceled or suspended 
  • Canada – 89 percent canceled or suspended 
  • United States – 85 percent canceled or suspended 
  • Almost every GBTA member company (96 percent) reports they have canceled and/or suspended all or most international business travel regardless of location. In addition, four in five (82 percent report they have canceled or suspended all or most domestic business trips. 
  • A majority of GBTA members based in the United States (84 percent) and Europe (81 percent) report their company has canceled or suspended all or most domestic business travel.  
  • Many GBTA member companies have instituted blanket cancelation/suspension of business travel regardless of location, duration or purpose. Four in 10 (41 percent) report their company has canceled or suspended all business travel, while half (53 percent) report their company has canceled or suspended all non-essential trips but allows some essential travel. 
  • GBTA member companies have undertaken a host of measures to help protect employees including instituting work from home policies (85 percent), provide updated health and safety information to employees (79 percent) and developing contingency plans to get work done such as increase teleconferences and video meetings (70 percent). Other actions taken include limiting the number of people who work in the office (59 percent) fewer report their company has temporarily closed all but essential departments (26 percent), closed the office entirely (25 percent) or moved some employees to new locations (11 percent). 
  • Almost all GBTA member companies have canceled (95 percent) and/or postponed (92 percent) meetings, conferences or events due to coronavirus. Fewer (31 percent) report meetings or events have been moved to other locations. When asked to estimate the percentage of business travel previously booked for March 2020 that has been canceled, GBTA members estimate approximately 89 percent of business trips have been canceled. This is double the estimate from the March 10, 2020 GBTA poll, when members estimated 43 percent of March 2020 business travel was canceled due to coronavirus. 
  • GBTA members vary in terms of when they expect business travel to resume. Over half expect travel to resume within the next three (40 percent) or six (17 percent) months. Four in 10 (40 percent) say they are unsure when travel will resume.  
  • The coronavirus financial toll is severe, with seven in 10 (73 percent) GBTA member companies describing the impact as “significant.” Another one in five (19 percent) characterizes the financial impact as “moderate.” 
  • GBTA supplier members feel the financial impact more strongly, with nine in 10 (94 percent) describing the financial impact of coronavirus as being “significant” to their company’s revenue. 
  • GBTA member companies continue to alter travel policies due to coronavirus. Seven in 10 (70 percent) report their company has instituted new policies pertaining to travel approval – an increase of 15 percentage points since the March 10, 2020 GBTA coronavirus poll. In addition, companies continue to modify travel safety and security policies in response to coronavirus with seven in 10 (70 percent) reporting their company has modified traveler safety policies – an increase of eight percentage points from the previous poll. 

Potential 2020 Business Travel Spend Revenue Loss Due to Coronavirus 

Country/Region

Potential 2020 Monthly Revenue Loss

($ Billions)

% Companies Canceling/Suspending All or Most Trips to Region/Country

China

($35.1)

99 percent 

Hong Kong

($0.32)

99 percent 

Taiwan

($0.34)

98 percent 

Asia Pacific

(minus China, Hong Kong and Taiwan)

($19.3)

97 percent 

Europe

($31.0)

96 percent 

United States

($23.1)

85 percent 

Canada

($2.0)

89 percent 

Latin America

($4.5)

92 percent 

Middle East/Africa

($3.7)

95 percent 

Total Potential Monthly Revenue Loss

($119.4)

 

Source: GBTA BTI™ Outlook Annual Global Report & Forecast (2019) 

Methodology 

GBTA conducted a poll of its members across the globe from March 18-21, 2020 and received responses from 1,155 GBTA members.