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More Companies Ready to Get Business Travel Back on the Road

GBTA member survey finds more corporations would allow domestic travel, but international trips are still on hold

Domestic business travel is seeing steady recovery, as companies cautiously open up to permit employees to take trips, according to the latest poll of 827 Global Business Travel Association members, conducted Aug. 5 to 9.  

While nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents still report that the pandemic has curtailed all or most of their organization’s domestic business trips, that number is a 19 percentage points improvement over GBTA’s mid-April poll, when 93 percent of association members said most or all of their company’s domestic travel was frozen.

Companies continue to show virtually no willingness for international business trips travel, with 93 percent indicating the pandemic has put a stop to most or all travel abroad, a number that has remained almost unchanged in GBTA’s polling since mid-March.

In Europe the survey found a more positive outlook than in North America. Of the European travel managers surveyed, 70 percent expect domestic business travel there to return in the next 2 to 3 months compared to just 26 percent in North America.

Likewise, members based in Europe are more likely to expect international business travel to resume in the next 2-3 months (20 percent) than members based in North America (9 percent).

The gap between travel sectors underscores the unevenness of any potential recovery, as futurist and trendcaster Dr. Shawn DuBravac stated in a GBTA webinar last week.However, three in four respondents (74 percent) report that their company has started to formulate a travel recovery plan.

“The business travel landscape continues to be difficult in Europe and the US, but we do see some small glimmers of recovery here and there,” said Dave Hilfman, the association’s interim executive director. “It is encouraging to see so many members companies working on travel recovery plans in preparation for their return to travel, with virtually all our members keeping employees’ health and safety as their primary concern.”

The survey found personal protective equipment is the new business travel accessory. Nearly one-third (31 percent) of GBTA member companies plan to provide PPE for their travelers while 20 percent require their travelers to provide their own as an essential item for their safe return to travel. Only 6 percent report their company is not making PPE mandatory for travelers.