Some good news. Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) member companies worldwide are reporting an emerging willingness to permit employees to engage in domestic business travel, according to the latest poll conducted August 5-9, 2020.
Respondents to the poll—the 10th bi-weekly survey conducted among GBTA’s members since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in February—continue to report virtually no willingness for employees to travel internationally, with 93 percent indicating the pandemic has curtailed all or most international business trips. By comparison, 74 percent of respondents report that the pandemic has curtailed all or most of their organization’s domestic business trips; this number has fallen by 19 percentage points since GBTA’s mid-April poll of members and the lowest level since the pre-pandemic polling in late winter 2019.
“The business travel landscape continues to be difficult in Europe and the U.S., but we do see some small glimmers of recovery here and there,” said Dave Hilfman, the interim executive director of GBTA, in a press release. “More companies look to be trending positively on domestic trips, with Europe still showing the most positive uplift.”
In Europe the outlook remains more positive, 70 percent of GBTA members expect domestic business travel to return in the next two to thee months compared to just 26 percent in North America. Likewise, members based in Europe are more likely to expect international business travel to resume in the next two to three months (20 percent) than members based in North America (9 percent).
Three in four respondents (74 percent) report that their company has started to formulate a travel recovery plan. Tighter booking channels are a trend, with 66 percent stating they are less likely to allow travelers to book directly with suppliers and 65 percent are less likely to allow travelers to book with an OTA (online travel agency), than before the pandemic.
When asked about new safety measures, personal protective equipment (PPE) is the new business travel accessory. One-third (31 percent) of GBTA member companies plan to provide PPE for their travelers while 20 percent require their travelers to provide their own as an essential item for their safe return to travel. Only 6 percent report that their company is not making PPE mandatory for travelers.
While recovery plans are underway, the return to travel remains slow and is taking longer than previously expected. Suppliers (84 percent) are more likely than travel managers (73 percent) to say that business travel has resumed more slowly than they had originally expected.
“It is encouraging to see so many members companies working on travel recovery plans in preparation for their return to travel, with virtually all our members keeping employees’ health and safety as their primary concern," added Hilfman. "New considerations, such as PPE, are being added to travel policy and GBTA is supporting members and the industry to ensure consistent health and safety measures across all sectors on a global basis."