FCM reports 50 per cent of corporates already back on the road

In Asia, technology, education, and the financial services sector are among the first to resume travel.

According to the study, business traveller confidence has been redefined as ‘informed’, ‘willing’, ‘able’ and ‘ready’.
According to the study, business traveller confidence has been redefined as ‘informed’, ‘willing’, ‘able’ and ‘ready’. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/Zephyr18

A study released FCM Travel Solutions in September has revealed a steady rebound for corporate travel, with 50 per cent of surveyed organisations already travelling or booking reservations in the near future.

Zeroing in on Asia, the financial services, science and technology, education and training, mining and construction sectors are among the first to resume travel. Across industries, client-facing roles such as sales, customer management and project workforce have also become the first to travel again.

Once governments reopen borders and restrictions such as quarantines are lifted, 90 per cent of respondents indicated a willingness to travel within three months of the relaxed measures, but for domestic and short-haul international flights only.

Actual trip numbers however, might prove way lower, since just 26 per cent of businesses plan to return to pre-Covid levels for domestic travel in 2021. This means that from six to eight business trips per traveller in pre-Covid days, this will drop to three to four trips per traveller per year until 2023.

Of useful mention is how current traveller confidence has been redefined as ‘informed’, ‘willing’, ‘able’ and ‘ready’, as well as four factors driving business travel once government restrictions ease. These are safety and viability (or when vaccine is found or virus eradicated), traveller confidence and readiness, business essential criteria, and budget with ROI.

Following duty of care, travel costs are a major concern – largely due to slashed budgets and the expected rise in the cost of travel as airlines and hotels look to recover their losses.

“Surveyed businesses repeatedly stressed the challenge they face to remain informed… While there is now more awareness around how to stay safe, access to intelligent risk management tools is seen as essential to keep both employers and travellers informed, prepared and able to react quickly,” the report stated.

Companies interviewed also stressed the importance of TMCs, who’ll need to combine travel technology and expert industry knowledge to drive communication on consistent and clear updates on Covid-19. 8.8 out of 10 businesses surveyed indicated how working closely with their TMCs kept them ‘informed’ and ‘empowered’.

FCM - Travel considerations
Top corporate travel considerations leading into 2021.

As for future travel buying behaviours? If the results of the survey are right, then suppliers such as airlines, hotels, car/ground transfers can expect shortened purchase windows, and are advised to continue with flexible fares and avoid overnight requirements. Virtual and hybrid meetings will also continue as travel gradually resumes.

These results are from the ‘State of the Market’ survey by global TMC, FCM Travel Solutions, reflecting business' travel sentiments over a five month period from April to August 2020. A total of 2,320 in the travel trade responded, ranging across business travel managers, bookers and travellers in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, EMEA and the Americas.