. Workplace trends, travel and trust issues for 2021 | Meetings & Conventions Asia

Workplace trends, travel and trust issues for 2021

Travel confidence on the mend, but inconsistent testing procedures remain a stubborn roadblock, according to latest GBTA poll.

For companies considering to travel in the near future, when it comes to global destinations, most prefer long haul to US (51%), Canada (48%) and Europe (46%).
For companies considering to travel in the near future, when it comes to global destinations, most prefer long haul to US (51%), Canada (48%) and Europe (46%). Photo Credit:Unsplash/Joakim Honkasalo

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 so.

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)

GBTAPoll A

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)

GBTAPoll B

“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.”