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More than half of companies are planning for recovery in
business travel in 2020, with one in three believing this will happen within
the next three months, according to the latest coronavirus poll by the Global
Business Travel Association.
Thirty-five per cent are planning for recovery in three
months or less, while more than a quarter (27 per cent) are looking ahead to
between six and eight months. Only one in ten believe recovery won’t happen
until 2021, but 28 per cent said they are unsure of when things will start to
get back to normal.
Among GBTA members who reported their company has cancelled
at least some domestic trips, 62 per cent said they expect travel within their
own country to resume in the next two to three months, while one in five said
it could take six to eight months and 19 per cent are unsure.
European members appear to be the most optimistic for a quick
recovery, with 74 per cent saying domestic business travel will return within
three months compared to 58 per cent in North America. North Americans were
also more likely to be unsure of when business travel will return than their
European counterparts (21 per cent versus 12 per cent).
Those in Europe are also more confident of the international
recovery, with 33 per cent believing this will start again in two to three
months and 47 per cent in six to eight months (compared to 26 per cent and 38
per cent in North America).
The vast majority (88 per cent) of members expect employees
will be willing to travel once restrictions are lifted, though this falls to 83
per cent in Europe.
When asked what would help travel managers feel confident in
getting employees back on the road, 92 per cent said they want to see a decline
in new infection rates, 91 per cent will be buoyed by governments lifting
travel restrictions or advisories, and 90 per cent want guidelines or
statements from public health agencies such as the WHO or CDC. Meanwhile,
effective anti-viral treatments (89 per cent), removing stay-at-home lockdowns
(88 per cent), a new coronavirus vaccine (85 per cent), advice from risk
management firms (60 per cent) and other companies allowing travel (49 per
cent) are some of the other signals that travel managers will be looking for to
feel safe in sending staff on trips.
When it comes to GBTA’s supplier members, confidence varies.
One in five say they are more optimistic than they were last week, while 57 per
cent feel the same as last week. Nearly a quarter feel more pessimistic about
the industry’s path to recovery than they have previously.
Suppliers noted corporate bookings have remained the same
(41 per cent) or decreased (49 per cent) in the past week.
However, it would appear that most members feel the industry
has ‘reached the bottom’ in terms of reductions among suppliers, with 77 per
cent believing the worst has already happened with cancelled flights and only
15 per cent think the worst is yet to come. Six in ten believe hotels have hit
the worst point in suspending operations, compared to 26 per cent who think the
worst is still to come. However, more than half (56 per cent) think there is
still some way to go before the industry hits the worst in revenue losses,
while only 29 per cent believe that point has already been reached.
Scott Solombrino, who was appointed GBTA’s CEO by the association’s
board of directors on Tuesday, commented: “The global business travel industry
remains at a standstill, but we are finally beginning to see some light at the
end of this very long tunnel. GBTA members are planning their post-coronavirus
recovery plans and most expect to be operational in 2020. This is a positive
sign… We have waited a long time for their to be optimism around the pandemic
in our industry, and it should continue to grow as we get closer to halting the
spread of this disease.”
This is GBTA’s sixth coronavirus poll and includes responses
collected from members between 17 and 22 April. See the results from the last