With borders reopening, is business travel finally on the rebound?

Delta and other Covid variants continue to dampen recovery, prompting planners to reconsider new travel programmes.

Business travellers are still ready to travel in the current environment, but they face a more intensive travel approval process than before.
Business travellers are still ready to travel in the current environment, but they face a more intensive travel approval process than before. Photo Credit:Unsplash/Briana Tozour

Despite continued reports indicating an overall willingness and optimism towards restarting business travel, actual numbers show otherwise, due to ongoing uncertainty around the Delta and other Covid variants.

According to the latest in a series of member polls by The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), eight in 10 report their company is likely to delay the resumption of non-essential domestic (81%) and international (80%) business travel due to wavering global situation.

However, it seems global travel buyers, suppliers and other stakeholders may be looking at new focus areas and ways of working for their business travel programmes.

Here are some key findings.

  1. Business travellers are still ready to travel in the current environment (68%)

  2. Although business travel optimism has gone up in September (22%) from August (15%), a quarter say they feel more pessimistic about the industry’s path to recovery

  3. Testing before or after employees travel for business remains an undecided factor for companies. In the US, 73% reported not requiring testing, 67% in Europe 67%, and 39% in Canada.

Additionally, the ROI of business travel has evolved, with 41% reevaluating these areas:

  • Increased use of virtual meetings (59%)
  • Increased emphasis on traveler wellbeing and safety (56%)
  • Increased use of hybrid meetings (combined in-person and virtual) (52%)
  • Reduced travel for internal collaboration meetings (49%)
  • Reduction in travel costs(48%)
  • Reducing business travel at the company across the board (38%)
  • Less business trips overall, but longer, purpose-driven trips for those who need to travel (37%)
  • More robust/intensive travel approval process (31%)
  • Reducing travel due to sustainability and environmental concerns or goals as they relate to business travel (28%)
  • Allowing employees more flexible options for flights and hotel stays (23%)



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