A Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) poll shows that more than
half of its members expect employees to return to the office by Q3 this
year, while non-critical business travel remains a low priority as
governments continue to debate pre-testing procedures.
These results represent the voices of a mix of travel managers and
buyers (50%), suppliers (27%), travel management companies (9%),
sourcing professionals (7%) and other business events-related personnel.
Of the suppliers group, hotel chains make up the bulk at 30%.
“While we continue to face challenges for our industry, there is
light at the end of the tunnel and projections for a return to some
normality remain positive for Q3,” said Dave Hilfman, interim executive
director of GBTA.
And in this first poll of 2021 — GBTA's 15th since the pandemic —
there appears to be a link between resuming non-critical business travel
and returning to the office.
More than 50% of respondents expect employees to resume office work
by August 2021, while 29% expect to do so within five to eight months. A
quarter (26%) are still on the fence, and just 8% have already done so.
Similarly, 29% expect non-critical business travel to return within
five to eight months, 20% are undecided, while just 6% have already done
Of those surveyed, 43% are somewhat willing to travel in the business environment, and 24% would turn down the idea completely.
Interestingly, the survey shows that, even a year into the pandemic,
companies may still not be entirely aware of the necessary actions in
order to resume business travel — no thanks to the large amount of
uncertainty still swirling among policy-makers. (See poll below)
While on a business journey, four in ten (32%) are comfortable with
suppliers such as airlines or hotels using mobile apps to verify their
health status. And when it comes to safety, two-thirds (64%) report that
vaccinating certain travel industry workers would make them ‘somewhat’
or "a great deal" more comfortable.
With majority of companies cancelling 2020's business events and
trips, respondents were also asked to rank the countries they would most
likely return to in the near future. Top on the wish list: the more
attainable domestic travel (54%), and when it comes to global
destinations, most prefer long haul to the U.S. (51%), Canada (48%) and
Europe (46%). (See poll below)
“The global roll out of vaccination programmes continues to be a key
driver in restoring traveller confidence, but uncertainty remains around
traveller requirements for a return to business travel, whether this be
pre-testing, testing on arrival or proof of vaccine," Hilfman said.
"GBTA will continue to lobby on behalf of members for clarity and a
consistent approach among governments.”