The majority of organizations will take a phased approach to resuming domestic and international business travel over the next 12 months, according to the first part of a combined multinational "State of the Market" survey by global travel management company (TMC) FCM Travel Solutions and sister SME (small and medium-sized enterprises) specialist business travel provider Corporate Traveler.
What they said: Over 70 percent of participants agreed or strongly agreed that they expected to increase business travel gradually, with consensus peaking in business travel returning domestically in one to three months (40 percent of respondents) and internationally in six to 12 months (32 percent of respondents).
The easing or complete lift of border restrictions ranked as the primary trigger for resuming business travel (70 percent said this would have significant impact), closely followed by organizational endorsement that it is safe to travel (68 percent of respondents indicated traveler safety will have a significant impact and must be reflected in travel policy). Only half of respondents, however, believe that their business travel volumes will eventually reach pre-coronavirus levels.
Business travel recovery will be led by Asia and EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), according to survey participants in those regions. In Asia, 50 percent of respondents have already begun booking domestic travel and 37 percent expect to resume international travel in three to six months. In EMEA, 37 percent of survey participants expect to travel domestically within one to three months, and 32 percent anticipate starting to book international trips within three to six months. The highest level of uncertainty around when domestic and international business travel will resume significantly was in the Americas with 28 percent of respondents saying that they did not know when travel would return.
Other notable findings in the "State of the Market" study’s first phase includes:
- Winning new business (43 percent of respondents) and managing existing client relationships (39 percent of respondents) are the two dominant business activities motivating organizations to a return to travel
- While a large portion of respondents indicated a need to revamp travel policy post COVID-19, 28 percent of respondents were unsure what needed to change; of those that did indicate areas for travel policy change, "health and hygiene" and "duty of care" considerations were the two dominant categories
- Asked whether changes implemented during COVID-19 will reduce their need for business travel, there was a 50/50 split between participants agreeing or disagreeing
Note: There was no distinct differentiation in these findings when comparing FCM responses with those from Corporate Traveler clients. Clients taking part in the study, which was conducted by FCM’s consulting arm 4th Dimension (4D), spanned national businesses spending around $100,000 per annum with Corporate Traveler to large multi-national customers managed by FCM with annual travel spends of over $100 million.
FCM’s analysts have now launched Phase 2 of the State of the Market study among the same 1,600 participants in order to review and monitor any marked variation in the first round of results whilst governments continue to relax lockdown restrictions, propose air travel corridors, or implement quarantine periods for international travelers.
Source: FCM Travel Solutions